OTG's Top Ten (and Other Twisted Commentary) For 2000


OPENING GIBBERISH:

The last year in the second millennium gave us a number of great comebacks -- terrific albums by artists that either hadn't recorded in a while or hadn't recorded something this good in a while. You'll see 'em below.

For me (as a Who fanatic), the biggest one was Pete Townshend's return. Who'd'a thunk it? Townshend returned to very active work in 2000. First and foremost, The Who dispensed with the horn section, background singers, percussionists and second guitarists and hit the road as a five-piece for the first time since the "Farewell Tour" of 1982, and frankly, sounded the best they have since the last tour with Keith Moon in 1976. Secondly, Pete (as well as several other artists) started catching on about how to "beat the boots" by releasing previously bootlegged material officially. Hmmm ... giving people what they want? Odd concept.

This was a particularly tough year to come up with a top ten. I got it down to fifteen fairly quickly, but removing those last five was tricky.

Anyway, on to the reviews ...


LIVE ALBUMS:

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Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band
I'm Going To Do What I Wanna Do (Live At My Father's Place 1978)

Long bootlegged (in a slew of incomplete forms), this show was the first radio broadcast of a Captain Beefheart concert (despite performing since the late 60's). This show captured the re-invigorated Magic Band promoting the release of the classic Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller). The band sounds absolutely electrifying. This is one of Beefheart's best performances, and Rhino Handmade did a superb reissue. Disk one contains the entire main set, with all the between-song dialog left intact. The second, 10-minute CD, contains the encore ("Safe As Milk" and "Suction Prints"). Beefheart fans who know about this already have it, the rest should get it immediately.

tracks: "Tropical Hot Dog Night", "Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man", "Owed T'Alex", "Dropout Boogie", "Harry Irene", "Abba Zaba", "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles", "Old Fart At Play", "Well", "Ice Rose", "Moonlight On Vermont", "The Floppy Boot Stomp", "You Know You're A Man", "Bat Chain Puller", "Apes-Ma", "When I See Mommy, I Feel Like A Mummy", "Veteran's Day Poppy", "Safe As Milk", "Suction Prints"

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Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band
Merseytrout

This is an odd release. Merseytrout is a good-sounding live recording of The Magic Band in 1980. However, everything about it smells like a bootleg. The sound isn't quite up to a conventional live release, some of the tracks are mistitled, and there are breaks between the songs. Odd. The performance is pretty wonderful. Not for the newbie, but a must for the Beefheart fanatic.

tracks: "Toaster", "Nowadays A Woman's Gotta Hit A Man", "Abba Zaba", "Hot Head", "Dirty Blue Gene", "Best Batch Yet", "One Man's Sentence", "Safe As Milk", "Flavor Bud Living", "Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles", "One Red Rose That I Mean", "Dr. Dark", "Bat Chain Puller", "My Human Gets Me Blues", "Sugar 'N Spikes", "Veteran's Day Poppy", "Dropout Boogie", "Sheriff Of Hong Kong", "Kandy Korn", "Suction Prints", "Big Eyed Beans From Venus"

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Big Country
Come Up Screaming

Come Up Screaming covers the band's farewell "Final Fling" tour of 2000. The band goes out on a high note, playing songs from their excellent final studio album Driving To Damascus, plus a good selection of early tracks with an extra emphasis on their classic debut album. Hate to see 'em go, but this is a hell of a send-off.

Over the years, Big Country released six live albums (including this one and a "live at the BBC" album), but Come Up Screaming is the one to get.

tracks: "Harvest Home", "King Of Emotion", "Driving To Damascus", "John Wayne's Dream", "The Storm", "Where The Rose Is Sown", "Come Back To Me", "Somebody Else", "Dive In To Me", "Look Away", "You Dreamer", "Your Spirit To Me", "The President Slipped And Fell", "Lost Patrol", "Broken Heart (Thirteen Valleys)", "Inwards", "Wonderland", "We're Not In Kansas", "Porrohman", "Chance", "In A Big Country", "Fields Of Fire"

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Eels
Oh What A Beautiful Morning

Oh What A Beautiful Morning docments the 2000 tour of "The Eels Orchestra" with a diverse set that essentially skips their two best known songs. "Novocaine For The Soul" and "Last Stop: This Town" are included as part of the instrumental overture that kicks off the show, and the show focuses on new songs from Daisies Of The Galaxy. The set is unusual, but terrific. Definitely worth getting.

NOTE: This CD is only available through the band's web site, http://EELStheband.com

tracks: "Feeling Good", "Overture", "Oh What A Beautiful Morning", "Abortion In The Sky", "It's A Motherfucker", "Fucker", "Ant Farm", "Climbing To The Moon", "Grace Kelly Blues", "Daisies Of The Galaxy", "Flyswatter", "Vice President Fruitley", "Hot And Cold", "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues", "Not Ready Yet", "Susan's House", "Something Is Sacred"

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Eric Idle
Eric Idle Sings Monty Python

Eric Idle Sings Monty Python is taken from the live concert he did at the Getty Theater in 1999, which was later followed by a US tour. At the Getty show, Eric strictly did songs (and told some stories in between). Sketches were added for the US tour, but they're not represented here.

If you're a Python fan, you'll probably really like this. The songs are fun (including the two new ones), and Idle is funny and charming.

tracks: "Spam Song", "The Meaning Of Life", "Money Song", "Every Sperm Is Sacred", "Accountancy Shanty", "The Meaning Of Life Poem", "I Like Chinese", "Bruces' Philosophers Song (Bruces' Song)", "Men Men Men", "Shopping", "Sit On My Face", "Penis Song (Not The Noël Coward Song)", "All Things Dull And Ugly", "Eric The Half A Bee", "One Foot In The Grave", "I Must Be In Love", "Rock Notes", "Galaxy Song", "Medical Love Song", "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life", "Lumberjack Song", "The Liberty Bell March"

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King Crimson
Heavy ConstruKction

A triple CD documenting the latest incarnation of King Crimson, Heavy ConstruKction focuses heavily on the latest album The ConstruKction Of Light and on improvisations (two songs on the first two CDs and all of the third). One nice surprise was an excellent cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" with Robert Fripp reprising his superb guitar work on the original.

tracks: "Into The Frying Pan", "The ConstruKction Of Light", "ProzaKc Blues", "Improv: Munchen", "One Time", "Dinosaur", "VROOOM", "FraKctured", "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum", "Improv: Bonn", "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream", "Improv: Offenbach", "Cage", "Larks' Tongues In Aspic - Part IV", "Three Of A Perfect Pair", "The Deception Of The Thrush", "Heroes", "Sapir", "Blastic Rhino", "Lights Please (part 1)", "ccccSeizurecc", "Off And Back", "More (And Less)", "Beautiful Rainbow", "7 Teas", "Tomorrow Never Knows Thela", "Uböö", "The Deception Of The Thrush", "Arena Of Terror", "Lights Please (part 2)"

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The No WTO Combo
Live From The Battle In Seattle

While the protests raged in Seattle over the World Trade Organization conference, former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra assembled an all-star band to stage a concert during the conference (bassist Krist Novoselic from Nirvana, guitarist Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, and drummer Gina Mainwal from Novoselic's new band, Sweet 75). The set starts with a witty and politically charged spoken word piece from Biafra followed a brief (but white-hot) set with two older Biafra songs and two new ones. Excellent.

tracks: "Battle In Seattle", "Let's Lynch The Landlord", "New Feudalism", "Electronic Plantation", "Full Metal Jackoff"

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Oasis
Familiar To Millions

Released to deal with a glut of bootlegs of the same show, Familiar To Millions captures Oasis at Wembley Stadium on their most recent tour. By now, the only original members left are Noel and Liam Gallagher, but the band's sound hasn't changed much. A very good live album overall, Familiar To Millions has the unfortunate side effect of showing the difference between the first two classic Oasis albums and the latter two. The older songs (including older b-sides "Acquiesce" and "Step Out") just blow away the material from Be Here Now and Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants. The brand new songs are good, but the suffer by the comparison.

Oasis' live sound doesn't vary a ton from their studio sound, so this one's probably just for the faithful. If you're new to Oasis, pick up Definitely Maybe or (What's The Story) Morning Glory? first.

tracks: "Fuckin' In The Bushes", "Go Let It Out", "Who Feels Love?", "Supersonic", "Shakermaker", "Acquiesce", "Step Out", "Gas Panic!", "Roll With It", "Stand By Me", "Wonderwall", "Cigarettes & Alcohol", "Don't Look Back In Anger", "Live Forever", "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)", "Champagne Supernova", "Rock 'n' Roll Star", "Helter Skelter"

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Pink Floyd
Is There Anybody Out There? - The Wall Live 1980-81

In support of The Wall, Pink Floyd launched a short but ambitious tour that was really more theater than rock concert. The band played the album, beginning to end (with a few subtle changes) while roadies assembled a gigantic wall in front of the band. At the mid-point of the show (after "The Last Few Bricks"), the stage was completely obscured. The remainder of the performance featured animation projected on the wall (as well as occasional holes in the wall) until the climax when the wall came tumbling down.

Is There Anybody Out There? is an impeccably recorded live set (taken from several shows) that adds punch and drama to the studio performance. Unfortunately, the visual half of the show is lost, but the accompanying book makes up the difference somehwat. (note: There are two versions of this CD, one in a standard double-jewel case, the other in a longer 6" x 9" book. I've got the book version, so I don't know if there are as many pictures in the regular CD.)

tracks: "In The Flesh?", "The Thin Ice", "Another Brick In The Wall (Part I)", "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives", "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)", "Mother", "Goodbye Blue Sky", "What Shall We Do Now?", "Young Lust", "One Of My Turns", "Don't Leave Me Now", "Another Brick In The Wall (Part III)", "The Last Few Bricks", "Goodbye Cruel World", "Hey You", "Is There Anybody Out There?", "Nobody Home", "Vera", "Bring The Boys Back Home", "Comfortably Numb", "The Show Must Go On", "In The Flesh", "Run Like Hell", "Waiting For The Worms", "Stop", "The Trial", "Outside The Wall"

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Pete Townshend
Live: Sadler's Wells 2000

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Pete Townshend
Live: The Empire 1998

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Pete Townshend
Live: The Fillmore 1996

Through his web sites (petetownshend.com and eelpie.com), Pete Townshend has started selling double-CD sets of recent concerts. These three are the first in the series with hopefully many more to come. Personally, I love all three of these, but I'm a Pete fanatic. Each of three offer a different side to Pete's work and complement each other very nicely.

The Sadler's Wells show was one of Pete's "Lifehouse" concerts held in London to roughly correspond with the release of his Lifehouse Chronicles box set (which is discussed below). This show runs through the "Lifehouse" material with a similar lineup to his '98 mini-tour band augmented by The London Chamber Orchestra. The show doesn't present the story as such, but is still a wonderful concert.

The Empire show is from the same mini-tour that produced last year's Pete Townshend Live: A Benefit For Maryville Academy. The sets are similar; however, this is a true double-CD (the Maryville CD is a full CD with a bonus CD single). Great show.

The Fillmore show is a long-bootlegged concert with Pete backed only by Jon Carin on keyboards. The result is a more intimate, more personal show.

tracks (Live: Sadler's Wells 2000): "One Note - Prologue", "Fantasia Upon One Note" [Quick Movement], "Teenage Wasteland", "Time Is Passing", "Love Ain't For Keeping", "Going Mobile", "Greyhound Girl", "Tragedy", "Mary", "I Don't Even Know Myself", "Bargain", "Getting In Tune", "Pure And Easy", "Baba O'Riley" [Orchestral], "Baba O'Riley", "Hinterland Rag", "Behind Blue Eyes", "Let's See Action", "Sister Disco", "The Relay", "Who Are You", "Join Together", "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Tragedy Explained", "Song Is Over", "Can You Help The One You Really Love?"

tracks (Live: The Empire 1998): "On The Road Again", "A Little Is Enough", "Pinball Wizard", "Drowned", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "You Better You Bet", "Behind Blue Eyes", "Baby Don't You Do It", "English Boy", "Three Steps To Heaven", "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand", "Sheraton Gibson", "Substitute", "I Am An Animal", "North Country Girl", "Sensation", "A Friend Is A Friend", "Now And Then", "Let My Love Open The Door", "Who Are You", "The Kids Are Alright", "The Acid Queen", "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Magic Bus", "I'm One"

tracks (Live: The Fillmore 1996): "Let My Love Open The Door", "English Boy", "Drowned", "The Shout", "I Put A Spell On You", "Cut My Hair", "Sheraton Gibson", "I'm One", "Heart To Hang Onto", "Parvardigar", "A Legal Matter", "A Friend Is A Friend", "I Am An Animal", "All Shall Be Well", "Slit Skirts", "Eyesight To The Blind", "Driftin' Blues", "Now And Then", "Rough Boys", "I'm A Boy", "Magic Bus"

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Roger Waters
In The Flesh

Recorded on Waters' surprise '99/'00 tour, In The Flesh is a wonderful set with his latest band running through a big sampling of Roger's work, both with and without Pink Floyd. Some of the tracks you'd expect are here ("Another Brick In The Wall, Part II", "Wish You Were Here", "Money", "Eclipse"), but there were some huge suprises in the set (notably the 18-minute "Dogs" and the new song "Each Small Candle"). Absolutely wonderful. For more details on what one show was like, you can read my review of the 1999 Columbus show.

tracks: "In The Flesh", "The Happiest Days Of Our Lives", "Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)", "Mother", "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert", "Southampton Dock", "Pigs On The Wing (Part One)", "Dogs", "Welcome To The Machine", "Wish You Were Here", "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun", "Breathe", "Time", "Money", "5:06 AM (Every Stranger's Eyes)", "Perfect Sense, Part I", "Perfect Sense, Part II", "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range", "It's A Miracle", "Amused To Death", "Brain Damage", "Eclipse", "Comfortably Numb", "Each Small Candle"

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The Who
BBC Sessions

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The Who
Live At The BBC

In the 60's and 70's, bands commonly recorded "live in the studio" versions of songs for broadcast on the BBC and The Who were no exception. Their appearances have been bootlegged to death, but BBC Sessions is the first official release. The performances sound looser than the studio records but not as punishing as their legendary live sets.

Because of copyright issues, the US and UK versions of the CD differ. The US version has one less song (a cover of the Everly Brothers' "Man With Money"), and one shorter song (the cover of "Shakin' All Over" is missing the brief bit of Willie Dixon's "Spoonful"). The US retailer Best Buy also has an exclusive bonus CD called Live At The BBC, only available as a free bonus with purchases of the US BBC Sessions.

For a casual fan, either the US or UK will do nicely. For the fanatic, I'm afraid you need the UK and the Best Buy packaged US version.

tracks (UK Edition): "My Generation (Radio 1 Jingle)", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "Good Lovin'", "Just You And Me, Darling", "Leaving Here", "My Generation", "The Good's Gone", "La La La Lies", "Substitute", "Man With Money", "Dancing In The Street", "Disguises", "I'm A Boy", "Run Run Run", "Boris The Spider", "Happy Jack", "See My Way", "Pictures Of Lily", "A Quick One While He's Away", "Substitute", "The Seeker", "I'm Free", "Shakin' All Over/Spoonful", "The Relay", "Long Live Rock", "Boris The Spider (Radio 1 Jingle)"

tracks (US Edition): "My Generation (Radio 1 Jingle)", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "Good Lovin'", "Just You And Me, Darling", "Leaving Here", "My Generation", "The Good's Gone", "La La La Lies", "Substitute", "Dancing In The Street", "Disguises", "I'm A Boy", "Run Run Run", "Boris The Spider", "Happy Jack", "See My Way", "Pictures Of Lily", "A Quick One While He's Away", "Substitute", "The Seeker", "I'm Free", "Shakin' All Over", "The Relay", "Long Live Rock", "Boris The Spider (Radio 1 Jingle)"

tracks (Live At The BBC): "Pete Townshend Interview - Townshend Talks 'Tommy'", "Pinball Wizard", "See Me, Feel Me", "I Don't Even Know Myself", "I Can See For Miles", "Heaven And Hell", "The Seeker", "Summertime Blues"

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The Who
The Blues To The Bush

Available only through MusicMaker.com, The Blues To The Bush is a live recording of the current Who reunion, their first as a five-piece since the "Farewell Tour" of 1982. Backed by Zak Starkey on drums and John "Rabbit" Bundrick on keyboards, The Who rips through a set of mainly "greatest hits", but with an extra helping of tracks slated for the long-lost Lifehouse project. "Pure And Easy" (one of Pete Townshend's best-ever songs) and "Getting In Tune" haven't been played live for years, and are both are big highlights. The band sounds inspired, but no where near as powerful as they'd sound later in the 2000 tour. It's too bad that the official document of the 1999/2000 reunion was recorded before the band hit their stride. This is definitely far superior to the '82 tour document Who's Last (but of course, no match for the deservedly legendary Live At Leeds).

Nit-pick time: The packaging for the CD is pretty lousy (check the blasé cover art), and the sound after each track fades out then fades back in for the next track which can be annoying.

Final note: Apparently, MusicMaker.com has gone out of business, so if you've got this CD, hang on to it ... you won't be able to buy a replacement.

tracks: "I Can't Explain", "Substitute", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "Pinball Wizard", "My Wife", "Baba O'Riley", "Pure And Easy", "You Better You Bet", "I'm A Boy", "Getting In Tune", "The Real Me", "Behind Blue Eyes", "Magic Bus", "Boris The Spider", "After The Fire", "Who Are You", "5:15", "Won't Get Fooled Again", "The Kids Are Alright", "My Generation"

The Who
Live MP3's from Pete Townshend's web page

This isn't a CD, but worth reviewing anyway. Over the course of the 2000 tour, Pete Townshend has uploaded roughly an hour and a half's worth of MP3's recorded straight off the soundboard to his web site so fans could hear bits of the tour along the way. The performances are wonderful, energetic, and are the closest thing to the original Who since Keith Moon died. The tracks he uploaded are a wonderful cross section of the tour, including a version of "5:15" with a nearly 10-minute bass solo from John Entwistle, a rare live performance of "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand", and an absolutely fierce run through of "My Generation". This should be the Who's 2000 live album, not The Blues To The Bush.

tracks: "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "The Relay" (both from San Diego 8/17), "I Can't Explain", "Substitute", "I Don't Even Know Myself" (Denver 8/24), "The Kids Are Alright" (Dallas 8/27), "The Real Me", "Pinball Wizard", "Drowned" (West Palm Beach 9/24), "Won't Get Fooled Again" (Tampa 9/26), "Behind Blue Eyes" (Cleveland 9/30), "Who Are You" (New York 10/3), "Five Fifteen" (New York 10/4), "I'm One" (New York 10/6), "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand", "My Generation", "Drowned", "Baba O'Riley" (Manchester 11/2)

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Neil Young, Friends & Relatives
Road Rock Volume 1

This was an unusual (but great) tour. Backed by most of the "Stray Gators" of Harvest fame along with wife Pegi and sister Astrid, Neil played a wildly eclectic set on this tour. Road Rock Volume 1 hits a number of the high points including the new "Fool For Your Love", the 18-minute "Cowgirl In The Sand" and a fine cover of "All Along The Watchtower" with assistance from tour opener Chrissie Hynde. The DVD release has one complete show with all tracks included, so that may be the better buy overall.

tracks: "Cowgirl In The Sand", "Walk On", "Fool For Your Love", "Peace Of Mind", "Words (Between The Lines Of Age)", "Motorcycle Mama", "Tonight's The Night", "All Along The Watchtower"


COMPILATION ALBUMS:

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Cracker
Garage d'Or

To be honest, after only four albums it seemed a little early for a "best of" collection. However, after listening, there's a heck of a lot of good material here. Along with tracks from those four albums, there's also three new tracks plus a killer cover of The Flamin' Groovies' "Shake Some Action" from a movie soundtrack. The second CD is a collection of rare and live tracks aimed more at the hard-core fans. It's a blast, but the first CD will appeal more to the casual fan.

tracks: "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)", "This Is Cracker Soul", "I See The Light", "Low", "Get Off This", "Sweet Potato", "Euro-Trash Girl", "Shake Some Action", "Sweet Thistle Pie", "I'm A Little Rocket Ship", "Big Dipper", "Seven Days", "Been Around The World", "Be My Love", "Heaven Knows I'm Lonely Now", "Eyes Of Mary"
bonus CD: "Surfbilly", "The Golden Age", "You Ain't Going Nowhere", "Hollywood Cemetary", "Whole Lotta Trouble", "I Want Out Of The Circus", "Steve's Hornpipe", "Mr. Wrong", "Sunday Train", "Lonesome Johnny Blues", "Rainy Days And Mondays", "China"

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Electric Light Orchestra
Flashback

The first ELO box set (1990's Afterglow) was a very good 3CD collection of hits, album tracks and b-sides, but Flashback is even better. Done with ELO leader Jeff Lynne's input, Flashback includes the hits and album tracks are here, but the extra tracks are a wonderful surprise. There's an uncut version of "Do Ya" and seven previously unreleased tracks. The unreleased tracks include five tracks from the early 80's that Lynne completed this year, a demo from 1973 ("Indian Queen") and a brand new version of "Xanadu", the song ELO performed with Olivia Newton-John for the 1980 film soundtrack.

In the liner notes, Jeff also tells of a new ELO project to be released in spring 2001.

tracks: "10538 Overture", "Showdown", "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle", "Mr. Radio", "Roll Over Beethoven", "Mama" [New Edit], "One Summer Dream", "Illusions In G Major", "Strange Magic", "Eldorado Overture", "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", "Eldorado", "Eldorado Finale", "Mister Kingdom", "Do Ya" [Unedited Alternative Mix], "Grieg's Piano Concerto In A Minor", "Tightrope", "Evil Woman", "Livin' Thing", "Mr. Blue Sky", "Mission (A World Record)" [Alternative Mix], "Turn To Stone", "Telephone Line", "Rockaria!", "Starlight", "It's Over", "The Whale", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Big Wheels", "Shangri-La", "Nightrider", "Tears In Your Life", "Don't Bring Me Down", "The Diary Of Horace Wimp", "Twilight", "Secret Messages", "Take Me On And On", "Shine A Little Love", "Rock 'n' Roll Is King", "Last Train To London", "Confusion", "Getting To The Point", "Hold On Tight", "So Serious", "Calling America", "Four Little Diamonds", "Great Balls Of Fire", "Xanadu", "Indian Queen", "Love Changes All", "After All", "Helpless", "Who's That?"

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Tom Lehrer
The Remains Of Tom Lehrer

Back in the early 60's, Tom Lehrer was a reluctant star. For fun, he started writing original comedy songs and occasionally performing them live. All the while, he remained at his first profession, teaching at a university. After about 1966, he pretty much dropped out of the public's eye. He did still write though, contributing occasionally to the 70's PBS series The Electric Company. Fans of Dr. Demento's radio show are hugely aware of Lehrer's work, and this box gives everyone else a chance to discover Tom's warped songs. The Remains Of Tom Lerher contains all of his albums (except the 1966 stereo re-recording of his debut album), plus bonus tracks from The Electric Company as well as a few genuinely brand-new compositions: "Selling Out" and "(I'm Spending) Hanukkah In Santa Monica". Tom's humor is very clean, but with a very dark streak that crops up in songs like "The Masochism Tango", "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park" or "I Hold Your Hand In Mine" and a sharp political edge that shows up in "We Will All Go Together When We Go", "Send The Marines" or "It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier". This is hilarious, literate, witty stuff, although some folks may find Tom's style a bit dated.

tracks: "Fight Fiercely, Harvard", "The Old Dope Peddler", "Be Prepared", "The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be", "I Wanna Go Back To Dixie", "Lobachevsky", "The Irish Ballad", "The Hunting Song", "My Home Town", "When You Are Old And Grey", "I Hold Your Hand In Mine", "The Weiner Schnitzel Waltz", "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park", "Bright College Days", "A Christmas Carol", "The Elements", "Oedipus Rex", "In Old Mexico", "Clementine", "It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier", "She's My Girl", "The Masochism Tango", "We Will All Go Together When We Go", "I Got It From Agnes", "That's Mathematics", "Introduction", "Fight Fiercely, Harvard", "The Old Dope Peddler", "Be Prepared", "The Wild West Is Where I Want To Be", "I Wanna Go Back To Dixie", "Lobachevsky", "The Irish Ballad", "The Hunting Song", "My Home Town", "When You Are Old And Grey", "I Hold Your Hand In Mine", "The Weiner Schnitzel Waltz", "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park", "Bright College Days", "A Christmas Carol", "The Elements", "Oedipus Rex", "In Old Mexico", "Clementine", "It Makes A Fellow Proud To Be A Soldier", "She's My Girl", "The Masochism Tango", "We Will All Go Together When We Go", "National Brotherhood Week", "MLF Lullaby", "George Murphy", "The Folk Song Army", "Smut", "Send The Marines", "Pollution", "So Long, Mom (A Song For World War III)", "Whatever Became Of Hubert?", "New Math", "Alma", "Who's Next?", "Wernher Von Braun", "The Vatican Rag", "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park", "The Masochism Tango", "The Hunting Song", "We Will All Go Together When We Go", "L-Y", "Silent E", "O-U (The Hound Song)", "S-N (Snore, Sniff, And Sneeze)", "N Apostrophe T", "Selling Out", "(I'm Spending) Hanukkah In Santa Monica"

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Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers
Anthology: Through The Years

Back in '93, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released Greatest Hits which was a damn-near perfect single-disc "best of" CD. In '95, one of the best box sets around, the six-CD set Playback, was released with three CDs of hits and three CDs of rarities. Now, Anthology is a double-CD "best of". With an extra CD to work with, some of the omissions on Greatest Hits were fixed ("A Woman In Love (It's Not Me)" and "Jammin' Me" are on here), but strangely the album stops at Playback, so no songs from the 1996 She's The One soundtrack and 1999's Echo are included.

A nice bonus is a brand new recording of "Surrender" (a Petty original, not a cover of the Cheap Trick classic) that Petty & The Heartbreakers used to perform live in their early days. A great track, reminiscent of the first two Heartbreakers albums. I'm amazed they never recorded a studio version before.

Overall, Anthology is definitely more complete than Greatest Hits and a lot cheaper than Playback. Definitely a well-done set.

tracks: "Breakdown", "American Girl", "Hometown Blues", "The Wild One Forever", "I Need To Know", "Listen To Her Heart", "Too Much Ain't Enough", "Refugee", "Here Comes My Girl", "Don't Do Me Like That", "Even The Losers", "The Waiting", "A Woman In Love (It's Not Me)", "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (Stevie Nicks w/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), "You Got Lucky", "Straight Into Darkness", "Change Of Heart", "Rebels", "Don't Come Around Here No More", "The Best Of Everything", "So You Want To Be A Rock 'n' Roll Star", "Jammin' Me", "It'll All Work Out", "Love Is A Long Road", "Free Fallin'" - Tom Petty, "Yer So Bad", "I Won't Back Down", "Runnin' Down A Dream", "Learning To Fly", "Into The Great Wide Open", "Two Gunslingers", "Mary Jane's Last Dance", "Waiting For Tonight", "Surrender"

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Matthew Sweet
Time Capsule: The Best Of Matthew Sweet 1990-2000

Time Capsule picks up Sweet's career in 1990, skipping his first two albums and starting with tracks from his first big hit album, Girlfriend. Overall, the track selection is very good, but there's a couple of big omissions ("Evangeline", "Come To California", "Faith In You"). Mind you, there's lots of great stuff here, including two terrific new tracks, "Ready" and "So Far". A nice introduction for a new fan.

tracks: "Divine Intervention", "I've Been Waiting", "Girlfriend", "You Don't Love Me", "Time Capsule", "The Ugly Truth", "Devil With The Green Eyes", "Someone To Pull The Trigger", "Sick Of Myself", "We're The Same", "Where You Get Love", "Until You Break", "Behind The Smile", "If Time Permits", "What Matters", "Hide", "Ready", "So Far"

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various artists
Avatar

In the early-to-mid 70's, Pete Townshend co-ordinated (and contributed to) three albums of music for and by followers of Indian guru Meher Baba. Avatar is a nice CD issue of those three long out-of-print records, plus a bonus CDROM with a 9-minute film combining home movies of Baba with an alternate version of "Parvardigar".

Pete only plays on about half of the box, the rest is an mix of songs and spoken word pieces. Most (but not all) of the Pete tracks were reissued on the Rhino re-release of his Who Came First solo album, with the main exception being the 9-minute instrumental demo of "Baba O'Riley", which is now also available on the Lifehouse Chronicles box. Definitely just for the hard-core Townshend fan. Avatar was a limited-edition release only available through Pete's eelpie.com web site.

The limited-edition copies are sold out, but in 2001, a new double-CD version (containing all the songs and the alternate "Parvardigar", but not the movie) has been released as a non-limited edition called J'ai Baba. It's also avalable on eelpie.com.

tracks: "Content"*, "Evolution", "Day Of Silence"*, "Mary Jane"*, "The Seeker"*, "Begin The Beguine"*, "With A Smile Up His Nose They Entered", "The Love Man"*, "Forever's No Time At All", "How To Transend Duality And Influence People", "Affirmation", "Baba O'Riley" [demo]*, "This Song Is Green", "Everywhere I Look This Morning", "Dragon", "Parvardigar"*, "Hail Avatar Meher Baba", "Give It Up", "Without Your Love"*, "His Hands"*, "Just For A Moment", "Baba Blues", "Meher"*, "Contact", "Gotta Know Ya", "Sleeping Dog"*, "All God's Mornings", "Lantern Cabin"*
(tracks marked with an asterisk performed by Pete Townshend or by someone with Pete)


Ummm... "ALTERNATIVE IMPORTS":

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Alex Chilton (with Teenage Fanclub)
Walk Right Back

Walk Right Back is a live recording of former Box Tops and Big Star leader Alex Chilton backed by the Scottish band Teenage Fanclub, whose sound owes more than a little debt to Big Star. The sound is terrific (except for a nasty tape glitch in "Telstar") and the song selection is wonderfully diverse, covering Frank Zappa ("Any Way The Wind Blows"), The Everly Brothers ("Walk Right Back"), Alex's days with Big Star ("September Gurls") and Sam The Sham & The Pharoah's "Wooly Bully". Along with the show are 8 bonus Chilton rarities. Great CD.

tracks: "September Gurls", "Love Me Like", "My Heart Stood Still", "Patti Girl", "Any Way The Wind Blows", "Walk Right Back", "Free Again", "Telstar", "Have I The Right?", "The Dark End Of The Street", "What Do You Know About Love", "All Your Love", "Life's A Gas", "Waltz Across Texas", "Wooly Bully", "Hey Little Child"
bonus tracks: "My Rival", "She Might Look My Way", "Windows Hotel", "Can't Seem To Make You Mine", "Shakin' The World", "All The Time", "Tennis Bum", "Surfer Girl"

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Oasis
Rarities Of Giants

Rarities Of Giants is a compilation of band demos for the current Oasis album, Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants. One hitch: Noel Gallager sings all of the lead vocals instead of Liam. The sound is terrific, and it's great to hear Noel's voice taking the lead. And this may be blasphemous to the hard-core Oasis fans, but I like Noel's voice better.

tracks: "Fuckin' In The Bushes", "Go Let It Out", "Who Feels Love?", "Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is", "Little James", "Gas Panic!", "Where Did It All Go Wrong?", "Sunday Morning Call", "I Can See A Liar", "Roll It Over", "Solve My Mystery", "(As Long As They've Got) Cigarettes In Hell", "Getting Older", "It's A Crime", "Carry Us All", "Fuckin' In The Bushes", "Fuckin' In The Bushes"

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Lou Reed
Rockpalast Special

A superb live recording of Lou in 2000 playing selections from his latest album, Ecstasy plus some older tracks and a brand new one ("Who Am I"). The full-band version of "Small Town" (as opposed to the piano/vocal original) is a great reinterpretation. Great sound, great performance.

tracks: "Paranoia Key Of E", "Turn To Me", "Modern Dance", "Ecstasy", "Small Town", "Future Farmers Of America", "Turning Time Around", "Romeo Had Juliette", "Riptide", "Rock Minuet", "Mystic Child", "Mad", "The Last Shot", "Tatters", "Set The Twilight Reeling", "Dime Story Mystery", "The Blue Mask", "Egg Cream", "Who Am I", "Sweet Jane", "Vicious"

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The Who
My Generation

The second pirate release I've seen of My Generation (see my 1998 review for details on the first). Like I said back then, I generally disapprove of pirate releases, but My Generation is an odd exception. The album's producer, Shel Talmy, owns the actual tapes, and The Who owns the rights to release the material. Neither can release it without the other, and they've basically been at war since The Who ended their contract with Talmy in '66.

This release has excellent sound and better packaging and bonus tracks than the previous release. The insert is a book with photos of the various album and single sleeves from the time, and the bonus tracks cover the early ('64-'65) era of the Who. This is how the eventual reissue should be done. Wonderful.

tracks: "Out In The Street", "I Don't Mind", "The Good's Gone", "La La La Lies", "Much Too Much", "My Generation", "The Kids Are Alright", "Please, Please, Please", "It's Not True", "I'm A Man", "A Legal Matter", "The Ox"
bonus tracks: "I'm The Face", "Zoot Suit", "I Can't Explain", "Bald Headed Woman", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "Daddy Rolling Stone", "Anytime You Want Me", "Shout And Shimmy", "Instant Party (Circles)", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" [Alternate vocals], "Substitute" [Alternate vocals], "Leaving Here", "Motoring", "Heat Wave" [1st version], "Lubie (Come Back Home)", "Great Shakes"


WOULDA-BEEN TOP TENS HAD I HEARD 'EM IN TIME ... aka ... "D'OH!":

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Travis
The Man Who

Released in 1999 (and thus ineligble), The Man Who is a wonderful collection of solid Britpop. "Turn" and "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" are the highlights, but there's not a weak track on here.

tracks: "Writing To Reach You", "The Fear", "As You Are", "Driftwood", "The Last Laugh Of The Laughter", "Turn", "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?", "Luv", "She's So Strange"
bonus tracks: "The Blue Flashing Light", "20", "Only Molly Knows"


OTHER NOTEWORTHY RELEASES:

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The John Entwistle Band
Music From Van-Pires

Finally released after an over-two-year delay, The John Entwistle Band's debut studio album is a soundtrack for a children's show called Van-Pires. Overall, the soundtrack is a bit uneven, but the highlights are some of the best work Entwistle's done since his run of 70's solo albums. "Back On The Road" (clearly written during a lull in Who activity) is one of Entwistle's best songs (solo or Who), and "Darker Side Of Night" "Left For Dead" are close. "Bogeyman" is an older track, finally finished off, featuring the late Keith Moon on drums. Sadly, Keith isn't in full fury on this one -- it's hard to tell it's really him. If you liked Entwistle's 70's solo albums, you'll like this a lot.

tracks: "Horror Rock", "Darker Side Of Night", "Sometimes", "Bogeyman", "Good & Evil", "When You See The Light", "Back On The Road", "Left For Dead", "When The Sun Comes Up", "Rebel Without A Car", "Don't Be A Sucker", "Endless Vacation", "I'll Try Again Today", "Face The Fear"

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Joe Hisaishi
Kikujiro [Original Soundtrack]

The soundtrack to Takeshi Kitano's film Kikujiro is probably the most unlikely album to show up in one of my year-end review lists. I saw the film, and loved it, and fell for the soundtrack music as well. The soundtrack is instrumental, based largely around piano and strings. The gentle melody in "Summer" is repeated with slight variations in almost every track, so theoretically it should get very boring. I can't really explain why, but to me, it never does. It's just a simple little melody that I can listen to over and over. Go see the movie. It's out on video now, and absolutely worth seeing. It's in Japanese with English subtitles, so if you don't like subtitles, you may want to pass.

tracks: "Summer", "Going Out", "Mad Summer", "Night Mare", "Kindness", "The Rain", "Real Eyes", "Angel Bell", "Two Hearts", "Mother", "River Side", "Summer Road"

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Robyn Hitchcock
A Star For Bram

A Star For Bram is a companion to Jewels For Sophia, made up of outtakes from that record. However, A Star For Bram is no mere throwaway, and is almost as good as Jewels. "1974" (released in a live version on the Storefront Hitchcock soundtrack) is one of Robyn's best. If you're a Hitchcock fan, you need this one. You'll only be able to get at The Museum Of Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn's official home page.

tracks: "Daisy Bomb", "I Saw Nick Drake", "Adoration Of The City", "1974", "I Wish I Liked You", "Nietzsche's Way", "The Philosopher's Stone", "The Green Boy", "Judas Sings (Jesus And Me)", "Antwoman" [Dub], "I Used To Love You", "The Underneath"

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Neil Innes
Recollections Volume 1

Until now, Neil Innes' back catalog was represented by a single CD. 1994's Re-Cycled Vinyl Blues was basically a repackage of Innes' solo debut, 1973's How Sweet To Be An Idiot, with a few bonus tracks from the same period. Recollections Volume 1 is the first in a series of Neil Innes CDs that feature a combination of older, unavailable-on-CD tracks and newly-released rarities. It's a wonderful collection, showing off Innes' light, playful, and occasionally silly songwriting. Highlights include the charming "Theme" from Innes' late 70's TV show The Innes Book Of Records, the Who parody Concrete Jungle Boy, and the clever "Catch Phrase". Wonderful.

The CD is only available from the Charmingly Persistent Productions web site. Volume 2 is planned for February 2001.

tracks: "Stoned On Rock", "Mr. Eurovision", "Another Lonely Man", "Ungawa", "Theme", "Five Learned Scholars", "The Worm And The Angel", "Hush", "Concrete Jungle Boy", "Spontaneous", "The Star Song", "Kenny And Liza", "Keep On Rockin'", "Not Getting Any Younger", "Imagination", "Catch Phrase", "Mother", "My New School", "Godfrey Daniel"

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King Crimson
The ConstruKction Of Light

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ProjeKct X
Heaven And Earth

The latest incarnation of King Crimson has four of the "double trio" lineup blasting out heavy, complex, experimental rock along the lines of the heavier material on the last "double trio" album, THRAK. "ProzaKc Blues" has Adrian Belew's voice slowed down to make him sound like a blues singer, and "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" is pure wordplay over a complex melody. The main focus of the album are the two longer, largely instrumental pieces, the title track and "Larks' Tongues In Aspic - Part IV", which show off the band's technical ability and improvisational spark. Heavy stuff. Probably not the best introduction to Crimson, but an excellent album none-the-less.

Heaven And Earth (credited to "ProjeKct X") is made up of improvisations by the current Crimson. Interesting and challenging stuff, but unless you specifically like improvised music, probably one to skip.

tracks (The ConstruKction Of Light): "ProzaKc Blues", "The ConstruKction Of Light", "Into The Frying Pan", "FraKctured", "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum", "Larks' Tongues In Aspic - Part IV", "Coda: I Have A Dream"
bonus track: "Heaven And Earth" - ProjeKct X

tracks (Heaven And Earth): "The Business Of Pleasure", "Hat In The Middle", "Side Window", "Maximizer", "Strange Ears (Aging Rapidly)", "Overhead Floor Mats Under Toe", "Six O'Clock", "Superbottomfeeder", "One E And", "Two Awkward Moments", "Demolition", "Conversation Pit", "Çin Alayi", "Heaven And Earth", "Belew Jay Way"

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Steve Louis
Cut Yourself Dreaming

Cut Yourself Dreaming is a very personal record, and a powerful one at that. The album was recorded quickly, so Steve's gone the solo route on this one again and the singers from last years Attention Seekers are gone. However, the songwriting is just as good. The songs mix alternative rock, folk and pop, but with a grungier and nastier sound this time around. The edge fits the songs perfectly. Great stuff.

The album also comes with a bonus CD of songs that didn't quite work on other projects.

tracks: "All In Time", "Crying", "The Long I", "Always A Woman On My Mind", "Go Away", "Journey", "In Between", "Safe As Tupperware", "Going Down", "Never Alone", "Invisible"
bonus CD (Cut A Bonus CD): "Perfume", "Valentine's Shoes", "Pretending's All I've Left", "Not A Day Goes By", "Just Another Day", "In My Privacy", "Train", "What's In It For Me", "Blur"

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Man Or Astro-Man?
A Spectrum Of Infinite Scale

A Spectrum Of Infinite Scale seems to pull MOAM? away from their core sound: that bizarre mix of B-movie science fiction and punky surf music. The surf influence is toned down and some of the more experimental sounds just don't work as well. A disappointment after last year's masterful EEVIAC: Operational Index And Reference Guide, Including Other Modern Computational Devices.

However, MOAM? still has some of the best song titles and packaging in the business.

tracks: "Pathway To The Infinite", "Song Of The Two-Mile Linear Particle Accelerator, Stanford University, Stanford, California", "Preparation Clont", "Curious Constructs Of Stem-Like Devices Which Now Prepare Themselves To Be Thought Of As Fingers", "Um Espectro Sem Escala", "Many Pieces Of Large Fuzzy Mammals Gathered Together At A Rave And Schmoozing With A Brick", "", "Very Subtle Elevators", "Within One Universe There Are Millions", "Spectrograph Reading Of The Varying Phantom Frequencies Of Chronic, Incurable Tinnitus", "A Simple Text File", "Obligatory Part 2 Song In Which There Is No Presently Existing Part 1, Nor The Plans To Make One", "Multi-Variational Stimuli Of Sub-Turgid Foci Covering Cross Evaluative Techniques For Cognitive Analysis Of Hypersignificant Graph Peaks Following Those Intersubjective Modules Having Biodegradable Seepage"

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Martin Newell
The Spirit Cage

The Spirit Cage is Newell's first new album of new material since the masterful The Greatest Living Englishman in '93. While not as good as that album, The Spirit Cage is still a great album, full of Newell's casual, charming pop. The songs have a homemade feel and a "lo-fi" sound, but that just adds character.

tracks: "Wake Up And Smell The Offy", "You Slay Me", "Sugarcane", "My Old School", "New Europeans", "The Boys Of September", "A Smashing Bird Like Brenda", "The High Clouds Of Summer", "Your Winter Garden", "Days Like These", "My Funeral", "Lily's Lullaby"

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Oasis
Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants

On their fourth album, Oasis' sole remaining original band members are the infamous Gallagher brothers, Noel and Liam. Bassist Paul McGuigan and rhythm guitarist Paul Arthurs departed before the sessions and have since been replaced by Gem Archer and Andy Bell. However, rumor has it that Noel played most of this one himself. If anything, the changes point out just how much of Oasis' sound is based on Noel. Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants doesn't sound radically different (despite the sample-heavy instrumental opener), and the familiar sound of Liam's nasal voice over Noel's heavy guitar is firmly in place. The songs take a step back from the excesses of Be Here Now, but still fail to reach the level of the first two albums. However, there are good signs. "Where Did It All Go Wrong?", "I Can See A Liar", "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" and "Sunday Morning Call" are classic Oasis tracks (even with the dodgy lyrics). Definitely a step back in the right direction.

Odd note: Personally, between the tracks on this album and the live album reviewed above, I'm finding that I vastly prefer Noel's singing voice over Liam's. Don't know if it's the choice of songs that Noel sings or the delivery, but Noel really needs to try the solo album route. Could be great.

tracks: "Fuckin' In The Bushes", "Go Let It Out", "Who Feels Love?", "Put Yer Money Where Yer Mouth Is", "Little James", "Gas Panic!", "Where Did It All Go Wrong?", "Sunday Morning Call", "I Can See A Liar", "Roll It Over"
bonus CD: "Go Let It Out", "Let's All Make Believe"

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Lou Reed
Ecstasy

Lou Reed's latest is a daring song-cycle about a relationship in bad shape getting worse. From "Paranoia Key Of E" ("... the mystery is why I play the goat ...") to "Modern Dance" ("... it's all downhill after the first kiss ...") to "Baton Rouge" ("... I think of the girl I never had ...") to the brutal ten-minute-plus "Like A Possum" ("... got a hole in my heart the size of a truck, it won't be filled by a one-night fuck ..."), Reed shows a relationship decay from paranoia and jealousy down to pure resentment. Musically, the album is very good overall, and absolutely stunning in parts, especially "Paranoia Key Of E", "Modern Dance", and "Big Sky", but the occasional track drags a bit. That's about all that's keeping Ecstasy from the same standard as Lou's last few.

tracks: "Paranoia Key Of E", "Mystic Child", "Mad", "Ecstasy", "Modern Dance", "Tatters", "Future Farmers Of America", "Turning Time Around", "White Prism", "Rock Minuet", "Baton Rouge", "Like A Possum", "Rouge", "Big Sky"

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Squid Vicious
At War With The Whale

At War With The Whale combines classic surf, ranging from the laid-back "Hombrecito" to the white-hot "Backburner" with a little silliness (the wonderful "Allison's Off The Wagon") and a great Shadowy Men cover ("Egypt Texas"). Classic surf music played with real style.

tracks: "Deep Eddy", "Hombrecito", "No, Mr. Bond. I Expect You To SURF!", "Squid Racer", "Casino Royale", "Egypt Texas", "Allison's Off The Wagon", "Backburner", "Armadillo Races", "Velvet", "Bandera!", "Skankin' Eddy", "Wade In The Water", "Fishnet Stockings"

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The Squirrels
The Not-So-Bright Side Of The Moon

A very detailed parody of the Pink Floyd classic, down to replacements for the various little sound-bites in the background. Well done, but not as funny as it could've been.

tracks: "Speak To Me", "Breathe", "On The Run", "Time", "The Great Gig In The Sky", "Money", "Us And Them", "Any Colour You Like", "Brain Damage", "Eclipse"

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Steely Dan
Two Against Nature

Steely Dan's first studio album picks up where their last (1980's Gaucho) left off. Two Against Nature is a great pop / jazz / rock hybrid, and as you'd expect, impeccably played and recorded. If you're a Steely Dan fan, you'll love this ... actually, you probably already have it. If not, I don't know that Two Against Nature is going to convert you.

tracks: "Gaslighting Abbie", "What A Shame About Me", "Two Against Nature", "Janie Runaway", "Almost Gothic", "Jack Of Speed", "Cousin Dupree", "Negative Girl", "West Of Hollywood"

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Teenage Fanclub
Howdy!

Howdy! picks up where TFC left off with 1997's Songs From Northern Britain, but the material isn't as strong this time out. Songs From Northern Britain was reputed to be a quickie time-filler, but Howdy! has much of that "quickie" feel. The packaging is skimpy and the artwork looks rushed. Despite that, Howdy! is still a very good album. It's a very poppy, very happy album full of great harmonies and catchy melodies. Like Northern Britain, this is another great "summer" album, but the songs don't quite match the predecessor.

tracks: "I Need Direction", "I Can't Find My Way Home", "Accidental Life", "Near You", "Happiness", "Dumb Dumb Dumb", "The Town And The City", "The Sun Shines From You", "Straight & Narrow", "Cul De Sac", "My Uptight Life", "If I Never See You Again"

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Pete Townshend
Lifehouse Chronicles

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Pete Townshend
Lifehouse Elements

The Who's long-lost Lifehouse project is one of those legendary, "what could have been" projects on a par with Brian Wilson's Smile set for the Beach Boys. The planned Lifehouse movie fell through but the resulting album, Who's Next, was considered by many to be The Who's finest work. However, the details of what a double-album version of Lifehouse would have been have never surfaced. Because the songs didn't directly tell the story as in Tommy or Quadrophenia, there is no consensus on what songs were part of the project and what order they would've appeared in. To add confusion, Townshend wrote extra songs for the piece (in '75 and '78) but the final project never materialized. Nearly thirty years after the beginnings of Lifehouse, Pete Townshend finally released a Lifehouse box set (and a single CD companion), and while it's a wonderful set, it still doesn't answer all the long-standing questions about the piece.

Lifehouse Chronicles starts off with pristine recordings of the original demos for Lifehouse, including some of the later additions to the project. While not explicitly stated, the demos seem to be in what might have been the final running order. The material itself is brilliant. Along with 1973's Quadrophenia, these tracks made up the best work of The Who's career, and these demos show off just how close Townshend had them to completion. The demos don't have quite the power of The Who's final versions, but the songs are so strong on their own that they hold up fine, even in "homemade" demo form.

The third and fourth CDs Lifehouse Themes And Experiments are made up of material assembled for the radio play on discs five and six. The new recordings of "Pure And Easy" and "Behind Blue Eyes" are wonderful, and the live "Who Are You" (with Pete's '98 band augmented by rapper Hame) is a great new spin on the song. The orchestral material is very pretty, but not earthshaking.

I hate to say it, because I've really wanted to hear this done right, but the radio play on discs five and six were a major disappointment to me. It's clear that Pete wanted to finish Lifehouse off so he could move on, but based on articles and interviews written over the last thirty years, this is clearly nothing like the original story was supposed to be. In addition, the new story is fairly thin. It's more of a character study than a full-blown play.

The single CD Lifehouse Experiments is a good sampler for the set. It leans heavy on the demos, but includes many of the better new recordings. For the obsessives out there, it also contains a demo of 78's "New Song", unavailable on the box.

The single CD is available in stores, the box is only available from Pete's web site.

tracks (Lifehouse Chronicles):

The Lifehouse Demos:"Teenage Wasteland", "Goin' Mobile", "Baba O'Riley", "Time Is Passing", "Love Ain't For Keeping", "Bargain", "Too Much Of Anything", "Music Must Change", "Greyhound Girl", "Mary", "Behind Blue Eyes", "Baba O'Riley", "Sister Disco", "I Don't Even Know Myself", "Put The Money Down", "Pure And Easy", "Getting In Tune", "Let's See Action", "Slip Kid", "Relay", "Who Are You", "Join Together", "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Song Is Over"

Lifehouse Themes And Experiments: "Baba M1 (O'Riley 2nd Movement)", "Who Are You" [Gateway Remix], "Behind Blue Eyes", "Baba M2 (2nd Movement Pt. 1)", "Pure And Easy", "Vivaldi (Baba M5)", "Who Are You", "Hinterland Rag", "Pure And Easy", "Can You Help The One You Really Love?", "Won't Get Fooled Again"

Lifehouse Arrangements & Orchestrations: "One Note - Prologue", "Fantasia Upon One Note" [Quick Movement]*, "Baba O'Riley"*, "Sonata K:212"*, "Tragedy"*, "No. 4 Aria"*, "No. 2 Giga"*, "No. 6 In D Minor"*, "No. 3 Adagio And Allegro"*, "Hinterland Rag"*, "Sonata K:213"*, "The Gordion Knot Untied"*, "Tragedy Explained"*, "One Note - Epilogue", "Fantasia Upon One Note"*
(tracks marked with an asterisk performed by The London Chamber Orchestra)

Lifehouse Radio Play: (dialogue)

tracks (Lifehouse Elements): "One Note - Prologue", "Baba O'Riley" - The London Chamber Orchestra, "Pure And Easy", "New Song", "Getting In Tune", "Behind Blue Eyes", "Let's See Action", "Who Are You" [Gateway Remix], "Won't Get Fooled Again", "Baba M1 (O'Riley 2nd Movement)", "Song Is Over"

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Neil Young
Silver & Gold

Originally planned as a pure solo album, Silver & Gold became something more akin to Harvest or Comes A Time. "Buffalo Springfield Again" is the highlight, a wistful look back at Neil's 60's cohorts. The rest of the album is very pretty, very folky music. Nice, but not Neil's finest.

tracks: "Good To See You", "Silver & Gold", "Daddy Went Walkin'", "Buffalo Springfield Again", "The Great Divide", "Horseshoe Man", "Red Sun", "Distant Camera", "Razor Love", "Without Rings"

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Warren Zevon
Life'll Kill Ya

Life'll Kill Ya shows Warren Zevon in classic form, from the witty "For My Next Trick I'll Need A Volunteer" and "My Shit's Fucked Up", to a cynical cover of Steve Winwood's "Back In The High Life Again" to the plaintive closer "Don't Let Us Get Sick". A wonderful return to form, and Warren's best work since his '89 classic Transverse City. If you liked his '70s albums (like Excitable Boy and Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School), check this one out.

tracks: "I Was In The House When The House Burned Down", "Life'll Kill Ya", "Porcelain Monkey", "For My Next Trick I'll Need A Volunteer", "I'll Slow You Down", "Hostage-O", "Dirty Little Religion", "Back In The High Life Again", "My Shit's Fucked Up", "Fistful Of Rain", "Ourselves To Know", "Don't Let Us Get Sick"


THE TOP TEN FOR 2000
(in my unforgivably less-than-humble opinion)

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#10
Amy Rigby
The Sugar Tree

The Sugar Tree is a superb collection of Amy Rigby's clever, witty songs. The album's sound lies somewhere between folk, country, rock & pop with Amy's witty, perceptive and occasionally sardonic lyrics added to the mix. The highlight is the wonderfully sarcastic "Cynically Yours" ("... you don't suck, so I'm cynically yours ..."), although the opener "Wait Til I Get You Home" and the rocking "Stop Showing Up In My Dreams" come darn close.

tracks: "Wait Til I Get You Home", "Happy For You", "Rode Hard", "Let Me In A Little Bit", "You Get To Me", "Balls", "Magicians", "If You Won't Hang Around", "Angel After Hours", "Better Stay Gone", "Cynically Yours", "Stop Showing Up In My Dreams", "Sleepin' With The Moon"

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#9
The Waterboys
A Rock In The Weary Land

After two brilliant albums recorded under his own name, Mike Scott has finally picked back up the Waterboys name and returned to the "big music" sound of the classic Waterboys albums (In A Pagan Place and This Is The Sea). Well, the name is certainly back, but the sound isn't quite the same as before. The grand sweep of those albums has been replaces by a grit that Scott hadn't attempted before. The result is a vast improvement over the last Waterboys release, Dream Harder, and nearly up to the level of those older gems.

tracks: "Let It Happen", "My Love Is The Rock In The Weary Land", "It's All Gone", "Is She Conscious?", "We Are Jonah", "Malediction", "Dumbing Down The World", "His Word Is Not His Bond", "Night Falls On London", "The Charlatan's Lament", "The Wind In The Wires", "Crown"

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#8
Paul Weller
Heliocentric

On Heliocentric, Paul Weller has gone for a lush, string-heavy sound and lighter material, and the resulting sound is stunning. The best songs here hold their own with Weller's best-ever writing. "Frightened", "Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea" (a lovely song for Paul's young daughter), "With Time & Temperance" and the epic "Love-Less" show off the new sound magnificently. The others don't take avantage of the new sound, but still hit Weller's usual standard. A bit of a departure, but an excellent album.

Note: The Japanese issue of the CD adds two bonus tracks, "Helioscentric" (an instrumental) and a cover of Sonny & Cher's "Bang Bang".

tracks: "He's The Keeper", "Frightened", "Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea", "A Whale's Tale", "Back In The Fire", "Dust And Rocks", "There's No Drinking, After You're Dead", "With Time & Temperance", "Picking Up Sticks", "Love-Less"
bonus tracks (Japanese issue only): "Helioscentric", "Bang Bang"

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#7
Mike Keneally & Beer For Dolphins
Dancing

Mike Keneally's latest takes his usual hybrid of Beatlesque pop, complex instrumentals and dazzling guitar work and throws in appearances by a great horn section with a result that reminds me of Frank Zappa's legendary 1988 touring band. The opening track, "Live In Japan", combines all of this down into Keneally's best-ever solo track, a catchy horn-driven rocker about moving to Japan (the "live" in the title is "live" as in "reside"). "Ankle Bracelet" and "Backwards Deb" are fiery rockers, "Pretty Enough For Girls" is a knockout, reminiscent of Frank Zappa's knotty compositional style.

Note: There is also a version available with a second bonus CD. The second CD has Mike solo and with a lineup of Beer For Dolphins playing a fine set of new material (with a few oldies).

tracks: "Live In Japan", "Ankle Bracelet", "Poo-Tee-Weet?", "Backwards Deb", "We'll Be Right Back", "Joe", "Pretty Enough For Girls", "Taster", "Dancing", "Selfish Otter", "Only Mondays", "Lhai Sal", "The Mystery Music", "The Brown Triangles", "MM", "I Was Not Ready For You", "Ragged Ass", "Skull Bubbles", "Friends And Family", "Kedgeree"
bonus CD (Dancing With Myself: Live And Acoustic At The Baked Potato): "I Was Not Ready For You", "Lonely Man", "Friends And Family", "Joe", "Live In Japan", "We'll Be Right Back", "I Will", "Apple Pie", "Backwards Deb", "Ankle Bracelet", "Dancing", "Lhai Sal", "Pretty Enough For Girls", "Only Mondays", "Kedgeree"

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#6
Patti Smith
Gung Ho

I don't know how she's done it, but Patti's actually improved on 1997's Peace And Noise, which was her best album since the 70's Patti Smith Group days. Gung Ho is the third and best of Patti's albums since returning to recording. Her band, which has remained pretty much unchanged on those three records, provides rock solid backing for Patti's powerful lyrics. "Glitter In Their Eyes" is as good as anything she's ever recorded. Frankly, I'm amazed this didn't become a hit. The epic, 11 minute-plus closing title track about Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam is a hypnotic gem. Grab this one.

tracks: "One Voice", "Lo And Beholden", "Boy Cried Wolf", "Persuasion", "Gone Pie", "China Bird", "Glitter In Their Eyes", "Strange Messengers", "Grateful", "Upright Come", "New Party", "Libbie's Song", "Gung Ho"

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#5
U2
All That You Can't Leave Behind

All That You Can't Leave Behind brings The Edge's signature guitar work back to the front of the sound, getting back closer to the band's classic sound. The result is U2's best album since 1987's The Joshua Tree. The opening pair of songs are a complete knock-out. "Beautiful Day" is U2's best single in ages, and the soul leanings of "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" are a stretch, but one that works. A wonderful return to form.

tracks: "Beautiful Day", "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of", "Elevation", "Walk On", "Kite", "In A Little While", "Wild Honey", "Peace On Earth", "When I Look At The World", "New York", "Grace"

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#4
Radiohead
Kid A

Kid A was of the most anticipated and surprising albums of the year. Coming off the heels of the now classic OK Computer, Radiohead took a huge gamble, veering wildly off course, abandoning a lot of what made OK Computer a hit, and diving headlong into a bold, experimental sound. On first listening, I didn't get it. No strong lyrics. No bold guitar work. No anthems. Heck, I had trouble telling where one song stopped and the next began. As I listened more, it started to sink in. OK Computer walked the line between punk and Pink Floyd, but Kid A seems to walk a line between punk, ambient music and dance. In some ways, Kid A sounds like a soundtrack to a really edgy, dark film (which, of course, doesn't actually exist). A daring, hypnotic, challenging release. Definitely worth hearing, but give it a few listens before you decide one way or the other.

tracks: "Everything In Its Right Place", "Kid A", "The National Anthem", "How To Disappear Completely", "Treefingers", "Optimistic", "In Limbo", "Idioteque", "Morning Bell", "Motion Picture Soundtrack"

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#3
Eels
Daisies Of The Galaxy

Daisies Of The Galaxy, the followup to 1998's Electro-Shock Blues, maintains much of the sound of that album, but isn't nearly as bleak. Mind you, we're still not talking perky here, but hearing lines like "God damn right, it's a beautiful day" in "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues" is about a perky as E gets. The songs still deal with some of the personal loss that inspired Electro-Shock Blues, especially "It's A Motherfucker" and "Packing Blankets". An older unreleased E solo track, "Jeannie's Diary", has a wistful and chamring lyric to go with the simple piano and strings. A beautiful, melancholy album and a must hear.

tracks: "Grace Kelly Blues", "Packing Blankets", "The Sound Of Fear", "I Like Birds", "Daisies Of The Galaxy", "Flyswatter", "It's A Motherfucker", "Estate Sale", "Tiger In My Tank", "A Daisy Through Concrete", "Jeannie's Diary", "Wooden Nickels", "Something Is Sacred", "Selective Memory", "Mr. E's Beautiful Blues"

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#2
XTC
Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2)

When XTC finally got out of their legal problems, they announced that their next released would be a pair of albums, one "orchustic" (orchestral/acoustic) and one "eclectric" (eclectic/electric). Wasp Star is the "eclectric" half of the pair. "Playground" and "I'm The Man Who Murdered Love" are vintage XTC: catchy hooks, great harmonies and clever lyrics. The majestic album closer, "The Wheel And The Maypole" is a classic and one of Andy Partridge's best-ever songs. It starts off with one melody, breaks into another, and then interweaves the two at the end. Brilliant. Colin Moulding's sarcastic (but still oddly romantic) "In Another Life" is one of his best compositions as well. A rock-solid album top-to-bottom, and one of the very best in XTC's catalog. A must-hear.

tracks: "Playground", "Stupidly Happy", "In Another Life", "My Brown Guitar", "Boarded Up", "I'm The Man Who Murdered Love", "We're All Light", "Standing In For Joe", "Wounded Horse", "You And The Clouds Will Still Be Beautiful", "Church Of Women", "The Wheel And The Maypole"

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#1
The Dandy Warhols
Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia

The Dandy Warhols' third album is easily their best to date. The heavily Velvet Underground influenced sound on the first album has become something unique. From the dreamy "Godless" and "Mohammed" to the country-tinged "Country Leaver" to the catchy folk-pop of "Get Off" to the elegant "Sleep", to the sarcastic "Bohemian Like You", there just isn't a bad track here. A wonderful album.

tracks: "Godless", "Mohammed", "Nietzsche", "Country Leaver", "Solid", "Horse Pills", "Get Off", "Sleep", "Cool Scene", "Bohemian Like You", "Shakin'", "Big Indian", "The Gospel"
bonus CD: "White Gold", "Phone Call", "Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth", "I Love You"


PAST YEAR'S BESTS

Just click on the album cover to see that year's reviews.

1999: Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin1998: Eels - Electro-Shock Blues1997: Paul Weller - Heavy Soul1996: Bob Mould - Bob Mould1995: Oasis - (What's The Story) Morning Glory?1994: Paul Weller - Wild Wood1993: Pete Townshend - Psychoderelict1992: Roger Waters - Amused To Death1991: Richard Thompson - Rumor And Sigh1990: Lou Reed and John Cale - Songs For Drella1989: Bob Mould - Workbook1988: R.E.M. - Green1987: Marillion - Clutching At Straws
Owen Gwilliam

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