CONCERT OF THE YEAR:

A Day In The Garden

This isn't a normal section of my year-end writeups, but the "A Day In The Garden" concert, held on the site of the original 1969 Woodstock Music And Art Fair was such a highlight for me that I figured I'd include a write-up of the show. For those of you who are interested, click here for a review.

REISSUE SERIES:

The Who - Odds & Sods

Originally released in 1974, Odds & Sods was one of the first of its kind: A release made up entirely of older, unused songs. The amazing thing the original demonstrated was that The Who was throwing away material better than a lot of acts top-line work. For the reissue, the project was basically done over again. The song list (and running order) of the original has changed dramatically, but it's still a collection of leftovers. Among the highlights are "Pure And Easy" and "Naked Eye" (two of the best songs in The Who's catalog), "We Close Tonight" (a newly released Quadrophenia outtake), an early version of "Baby Don't You Do It", and The Who's version of "Time is Passing" (originally destined for Lifehouse). Odds & Sods also has an unintentional rarity: an alternate studio take of "Young Man Blues". The intent was to use the rare studio version done for a 60's sampler called The House That Track Built, but this version got used by mistake. It's nice to have a new version, but it's an inferior take to the original. All-in-all, a must for Who fans (who probably already bought it) and a damn fine album for anyone else.

cover art "I'm The Face" - The High Numbers, "Leaving Here", "Baby Don't You Do It", "Summertime Blues", "Under My Thumb", "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand", "My Way", "Faith In Something Bigger", "Glow Girl", "Little Billy", "Young Man Blues", "Cousin Kevin Model Child", "Love Ain't For Keeping", "Time Is Passing", "Pure And Easy", "Too Much Of Anything", "Long Live Rock", "Put The Money Down", "We Close Tonight", "Postcard", "Now I'm A Farmer", "Water", "Naked Eye"

LIVE ALBUMS:

Robyn Hitchcock - Storefront Hitchcock

Storefront Hitchcock is the soundtrack to Jonathan Demme's concert movie. The movie (which I haven't seen yet) features Hitchcock singing in the front window an abandoned New York business, backed occasionally by Deni Bonet on violin and Tim Keegan on guitar. Fortunately, Demme left in Hitchcock's surreal (and funny) on-stage patter, which really adds to the charm of the album. The show has a mix of old and new material, and it's pretty damn wonderful all through. The vinyl version is worth seeking out as well. There are extra songs and extra patter, but it's not a simple expanding of the CD format, so both are worth grabbing. Hope they bring the movie around here sometime soon!

cover art CD version: "1974", "Let's Go Thundering", "I'm Only You", "Glass Hotel", "I Something You", "The Yip Song", "Freeze", "Alright, Yeah", "Where Do You Go When You Die?", "The Wind Cries Mary", "No, I Don't Remember Guildford", "Beautiful Queen"

vinyl version: "1974", "Let's Go Thundering", "Filthy Bird", "Statue With A Walkman", "I'm Only You", "Glass Hotel", "I Something You", "The Yip Song", "You And Oblivion", "Freeze", "Airscape", "Alright, Yeah", "Where Do You Go When You Die?", "The Wind Cries Mary", "No, I Don't Remember Guildford", "Eerie Green Storm Lantern", "Beautiful Queen"

King Crimson - Absent Lovers

Absent Lovers is the official complete release of the final show of the 80's King Crimson (shorter versions of the show have been available on bootlegs for ages). This concert shows the 80's KC at the height of their powers, easily one of the best live bands in rock. Totally essential.

cover art "Entry Of The Crims", "Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two", "Thela Hun Ginjeet", "Red", "Matte Kudasai", "Industry", "Dig Me", "Three Of A Perfect Pair", "Indiscipline", "Sartori In Tangier", "Frame By Frame", "Man With An Open Heart", "Waiting Man", "Sleepless", "Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part III", "Discipline", "Heartbeat", "Elephant Talk"

Lou Reed - Perfect Night Live In London

Lou goes unplugged, sort of. Perfect Night is an impressive live set with a more laid back feel from Reed. Part of the fun is that Reed's set list includes some gems like "I'll Be Your Mirror", "The Kids" and "Kicks" that he hasn't played live in ages. A change of pace, but a great sounding one.

cover art "I'll Be Your Mirror", "Perfect Day", "The Kids", "Vicious", "Busload Of Faith", "Kicks", "Talking Book", "Into The Divine", "Coney Island Baby", "New Sensations", "Why Do You Talk", "Riptide", "Original Wrapper", "Sex With Your Parents (Motherfucker) Part II", "Dirty Blvd."

XTC - Transistor Blast

After a six-year long "strike" against Virgin Records, XTC finally signed on to TVT records. While the band's first new studio album was being recorded, TVT released a 4 CD box set of recordings made for the BBC. Some of the tracks were already released on Drums And Wireless and Live On The BBC. The rest of the tracks come from various BBC sessions. Unfortunately, this serves as a reminder of how good XTC was live. That's "unfortunate" because the band hasn't toured in over 15 years due to Andy Partridge's now-legendary stage fright.

cover art "Life Begins At The Hop", "Scarecrow People", "Seagulls Screaming Kiss Her, Kiss Her", "Ten Feet Tall", "Garden Of Earthy Delights", "Runaways", "When You're Near Me I Have Difficulty", "I'm Bugged", "Another Satellite", "You're The Wish You Are I Had", "X Wires", "Roads Girdle The Globe", "No Thugs In Our House", "One Of The Millions", "Real By Reel", "The Meeting Place", "Meccanic Dancing (Oh We Go!)", "Poor Skeleton Steps Out", "Atom Age", "The Rhythm", "This World Over", "Snowman", "Dance Band", "Making Plans For Nigel", "Jason And The Argonauts", "Radios In Motion", "X Wires", "Science Friction", "Statue Of Liberty", "The Rhythm", "I'll Set Myself On Fire", "New Town Animal", "All Along The Watchtower", "Beatown", "This Is Pop", "Dance Band", "Neon Shuffle", "Life Begins At The Hop", "Burning With Optimism's Flames", "Love At First Sight", "Respectable Street", "No Language In Our Lungs", "This Is Pop", "Scissor Man", "Towers Of London", "Battery Brides (Andy Paints Brian)", "Living Through Another Cuba", "Generals And Majors", "Making Plans For Nigel", "Are You Receiving Me?"

COMPILATION ALBUMS:

Randy Newman - Guilty: 30 Years Of Randy Newman

Randy Newman is a great and hugely misunderstood songwriter. His songs often paint vivid portraits of unpleasant characters, and do so with a wit and intelligence missing from a lot of modern pop. Guilty collects two CDs of Newman's Tin Pan Alley-tinged pop with a CD of his film scores (for "The Natural", "Avalon", "Ragtime" and many others), and a CD of rarities. I'm a big fan, and I'd probably nitpick the two hits disks (some favorites left off and some lesser tracks included), but on the whole this is an excellent introduction to Randy Newman.

cover art "Love Story (You And Me)", "Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad", "Cowboy", "The Beehive State", "I Think It's Going To Rain Today", "Davy The Fat Boy", "Have You Seen My Baby", "Let's Burn Down The Cornfield", "Mama Told Me Not To Come", "Suzanne", "Old Kentucky Home", "Sail Away", "Lonely At The Top", "Last Night I Had A Dream", "Political Science", "Burn On", "Memo To My Son", "You Can Leave Your Hat On", "God's Song", "Rednecks", "Birmingham", "Marie", "Guilty", "Louisiana 1927", "Kingfish", "Baltimore", "Rider In The Rain", "Short People", "Little Criminals", "In Germany Before The War", "I'll Be Home", "It's Money That I Love", "Ghosts", "The Girls In My Life (Part 1)", "William Brown", "I Love L.A.", "Mikey's", "My Life Is Good", "Miami", "Real Emotional Girl", "Take Me Back", "Song For The Dead", "Dixie Flyer", "New Orleans Wins The War", "Four Eyes", "It's Money That Matters", "I Want You To Hurt Like I Do", "Can't Keep A Good Man Down", "Bleeding All Over The Place" [Alternate Mix], "Happy Ending", "Golden Gridiron Boy", "Vine Street", "Love Is Blind", "Don't Ruin Our Happy Home", "The Goat", "Gone Dead Train", "Tickle Me", "Maybe I'm Doing It Wrong", "Yellow Man", "Magic In The Moonlight", "Beat Me Baby", "Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear", "Let Me Go", "Jesus In The Summertime", "Going Home (1918)", "Interiors", "Pretty Boy", "Something To Sing About", "The Ballad Of The Three Amigos", "My Little Buttercup", "Blue Shadows On The Trail", "Happy", "The Longest Night", "Days Of Heaven", "What Have You Done To Me", "Masterman And Baby J", "Lines In The Sand", "Gainesville", "Feels Like Home", "My Name Is James", "Laugh And Be Happy", "Rev Running", "Change Your Way", "Clef Club No. 1", "Clef Club No. 2", "Ragtime", "Prologue 1915-1923", "The Natural", "I Love To See You Smile", "Kevin's Party (Cowboy Gil)", "1914", "End Titles", "Leonard", "Dexter's Tune", "Clocks", "Make Up Your Mind", "Opening", "Tartine De Merde", "You've Got A Friend In Me", "Woody And Buzz", "I Will Go Sailing No More", "Heaven Is My Home", "Main Title", "Clouds", "Good News"

The Style Council - The Complete Adventures Of The Style Council

In 1982, at the peak of Paul Weller's success with The Jam, he quit the band in order to kill it before it became a dinosaur. His first post-Jam product was a loosely organized group (Weller and pianist Mick Talbot were the only "official" members of the band) that focused on Weller's budding interest in R&B, soul and jazz. The Style Council started out hugely popular and had their backing fade over time as the band's albums became more and more bland. The Complete Adventures (like last year's Jam box Direction Reaction Creation) contains every studio recording made by the band, including their never released final LP, Modernism: A New Decade (an ill-advised foray into dance music), which was rejected by the label. The band's breakup followed that rejection. The early stuff on here is terrific. Tracks from the band's first two albums, Café Bleu and Our Favourite Shop are the highlights of the box. Unless you're a Weller fanatic, skip the box and grab those first two albums if you're interested.

cover art "Speak Like A Child", "Party Chambers", "Money-Go-Round" [Bert Bevans Alternate Remix], "Headstart For Happiness", "Mick's Up", "Long Hot Summer", "The Paris Match", "Le Départ", "A Solid Bond In Your Heart", "It Just Came To Pieces In My Hands", "My Ever Changing Moods" [12" Version], "Mick's Compnay", "Spring, Summer, Autumn", "Mick's Blessings", "The Whole Point Of No Return", "Me Ship Came In!", "Blue Café", "The Paris Match", "My Ever Changing Moods", "Dropping Bombs On The White House", "A Gospel", "Strength Of Your Nature", "You're The Best Thing", "Here's One That Got Away", "Headstart For Happiness", "Council Meetin'", "The Big Boss Groove", "Shout To The Top", "Ghosts Of Dachau", "The Piccadilly Trail", "Soul Deep" [Bert Bevans Remix], "Walls Come Tumbling Down!", "The Whole Point II", "Blood Sports", "Spin Drifting", "Homebreakers", "All Gone Away", "Come To Milton Keynes", "Internationalists", "A Stone's Throw Away", "The Stand Up Comic's Instructions", "Boy Who Cried Wolf", "A Man Of Great Promise", "Down In The Seine", "The Lodgers", "Luck", "With Everything To Lose", "Our Favourite Shop", "(When You) Call Me", "Have You Ever Had It Blue" [Uncut Version], "Mr. Cool's Dream", "It Didn't Matter", "All Year Round", "Right To Go", "Heavens Above", "Fairy Tales", "Angel", "Walking The Night", "Waiting", "The Cost Of Loving", "A Woman's Song", "Françoise", "Wanted (Or Waiter There's Some Soup In My Flies)", "The Cost Of Loving" [12" Version], "Life At A Top People's Health Farm" [Um & Argh Mic], "Sweet Loving Ways", "It's A Very Deep Sea", "The Story Of Someone's Shoe", "Changing Of The Guard", "The Little Boy In A Castle / A Dove Flew Down From The Elephant", "The Gardener Of Eden (A Three-Piece Suite)", "Why I Went Missing", "How She Threw It All Away", "Iwasadoledadstoyboy", "Confessions 1, 2, & 3", "Confessions Of A Pop-Group", "In Love For The First Time", "I Do Like To Be The B-Side To The A-Side", "Promised Land" [Longer Version], "Can You Still Love Me?", "Long Hot Summer '89", "Everybody's On The Run", "A New Decade", "Can You Still Love Me?", "The World Must Come Together", "Hope (Feelings Gonna Getcha)", "That Spiritual Feeling", "Everybody's On The Run", "Love Of The World", "Sure Is Sure"

Paul Weller - Modern Classics

After folding The Style Council (following the rejection of the band's final album), Paul Weller took time off, then came back with a spectacular debut solo single, "Into Tomorrow". Weller's solo career has been tremendous, combining the power of The Jam's power pop with The Style Council's soul feel into a killer sound. Modern Classics is a well-chosen best of, and a good starting point for a Weller neophyte. For the hard-core fans, there's a double-CD version of the album that adds a great '98 concert. An absolute must.

cover art "Out Of The Sinking", "Peacock Suit", "Sunflower", "The Weaver", "Wild Wood", "Above The Clouds", "Uh Huh Oh Yeh", "Brushed", "The Changingman", "Friday Street", "You Do Something To Me", "Brand New Start", "Hung Up", "Mermaids", "Broken Stones", "Into Tomorrow"

bonus live disc: "Into Tomorrow", "Peacock Suit", "Friday Street", "Mermaids", "Out Of The Sinking", "Heavy Soul", "Wild Wood", "Up In Suzes' Room", "Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)", "The Changingman", "Porcelain Gods", "Sunflower", "Broken Stones"

Ummm... "ALTERNATIVE IMPORTS":

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - The Fillmore 20

This triple CD covers the final show of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' incredible twenty show stand at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Along with songs from Petty's catalog, the band throws in all kinds of covers, a guest appearance by blues legend John Lee Hooker, and a rare performance of "On The Street", the debut single of Mudcrutch, a band where Petty first played with Benmont Tench (who wrote "On The Street") and Mike Campbell. Petty needs to release a live set from these shows. Amazing stuff.

cover art "Around And Around", "Jammin' Me", "Runnin' Down A Dream", "Time Is On My Side", "Call Me The Breeze", "Cabin Down Below", "Diddy Wah Diddy", "Slaughter On 10th Avenue", "Listen To Her Heart", "I Won't Back Down", "That Date I Had With That Ugly Old Homecoming Queen", "I Found My Baby" (with John Lee Hooker), "Serves You Right To Suffer" (with John Lee Hooker) "Boogie Chillun" (with John Lee Hooker), "It's Good To Be King", "Green Onions", "You Are My Sunshine", "Ain't No Sunshine", "On The Street", "I Want You Back", "Little Maggie", "Walls", "Angel Dream", "Guitar Boogie Shuffle", "Even The Losers", "American Girl", "You Really Got Me", "County Farm", "You Wreck Me", "Shakin' All Over", "Mary Jane's Last Dance", "You Don't Know How It Feels", "I Got A Woman", "Free Fallin'", "Gloria", "Bye Bye Johnny", "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", "Louie, Louie", "It's All Over Now", "Alright For Now"

R.E.M. - We Don't Play Jimi Hendrix Songs

Taken from a performance on BBC's "Later" program, We Don't Play Jimi Hendrix Songs shows the new R.E.M. trio (with help from Joey Waronker, Ken Stringfellow and Scott McCaughey) in fine form. The new songs from Up sound gorgeous (especially "At My Most Beautiful"), and the older songs still sound fresh.

cover art "Losing My Religion", "Lotus", "New Test Leper", "Daysleeper", "Electrolite", "At My Most Beautiful", "The Apologist", "Country Feedback", "Parakeet", "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)", "Walk Unafraid", "Man On The Moon", "The Passenger", "Sad Professor", "I'm Not Over You", "At My Most Beautiful", "Spooky"

The Velvet Underground - Caught Between The Twisted Stars

There are a number of Velvet Underground box sets out, some legit, some not quite-so-legit. Caught Between The Twisted Stars is a good solid selection of rarities, but what's really noteworthy is the packaging. It's a really stunning 4 CD set, with very professional, clever artwork. If you've already got a number of VU boxes, this may prove largely redundant, but if not, this is definitely a winner.

cover art "Melody Laughter", "Femme Fatale", "Venus In Furs", "The Black Angel's Death Song", "All Tomorrow's Parties", "I'm Waiting For The Man", "Heroin", "Run Run Run", "Poor Richard's", "Nothing Song", "Venus Heroin", "Chic Mystique", "Train 'Round The Bend / Oh! Sweet Nuthin'", "Sweet Sister Ray", "Sister Ray", "Hey Mr. Rain", "Heroin", "Searchin'", "Lady Godiva's Operation", "The Gift", "Run Run Run", "Guess I'm Falling In Love", "A Short Lived Torture Of Cacophony", "The Black Angel's Death Song" - Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico, "The Biggest, Loudest, Heaviest Group" - Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico, "A Distant Mirror"

Tom Waits - Innocent When You Dream

Since the release of The Black Rider in '93, Tom Waits has been pretty much absent from the music scene (although a new album is promised for '99). Innocent When You Dream is taken from a benefit concert recorded in 1998, and it's wonderful to hear Tom play live again. Similar to his live masterpiece Big Time, Innocent When You Dream hits a nice cross-section of Tom's career, and does with a terrific band. Absolutely superb.

cover art "I Don't Wanna Grow Up", "Black Wings", "Goin' Out West", "16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six", "Such A Scream", "Jesus Gonna Be Here", "Earth Died Screaming", "Tango Till They're Sore", "Broken Bicycles", "Back In The Good Old World", "Invitation To The Blues", "Johnsburg, Illinois", "On The Nickel", "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis", "All Stripped Down", "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me", "In The Colosseum", "Innocent When You Dream", "Cemetery Polka", "Falling Down", "That Feel", "Singapore", "Heartattack And Vine", "Filipino Box Spring Hog", "Big Joe And Phantom 309", "Gun Street Girl", "Time", "Lucky Day", "Walk Away", "The Fall Of Troy", "Tom Traubert's Blues (Four Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen)"

The Who - My Generation

In general, I'm not one for pirate releases, but My Generation needed to be an exception. The Who's classic debut album has never been released on CD, owing to a conflict over rights between the band and producer Shel Talmy. So, someone took the initiative and just made their own CD. The album reflected the band's early stage show, combining Townshend originals like "My Generation" and "The Kids Are Alright" with R&B standards like "I Don't Mind" and "I'm A Man". The bonus tracks are taken from The Who's first three singles (although the first chord of "I Can't Explain" is oddly omitted) and the take of "Young Man Blues" from The House That Track Built. When the squabbling's over and there's a real, legit release of My Generation available, I'll buy it the second it comes out. But for now, I'll settle with this.

cover art "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 Can't Explain", "Bald Headed Woman", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere", "Daddy Rolling Stone", "Anytime You Want Me", "Shout And Shimmy", "Young Man Blues"

Frank Zappa - Crush All Boxes

Over the years, Frank Zappa has had several planned albums scrapped for various reasons, and Crush All Boxes was one of those. The tracks showed up on You Are What You Is and Tinseltown Rebellion, although the mix here is a tad different. For hard-core Zappa fans, you'll be interested to hear how FZ originally envisioned the album. For others: go buy You Are What You Is. You really need a copy, it's a must. So go. Why are you still reading? Go. Now.

cover art "Doreen", "Fine Girl", "Easy Meat", "Goblin Girl", "Society Pages", "I'm A Beautiful Guy", "Beauty Knows No Pain", "Charlie's Enormous Mouth", "Any Downers?", "Conehead"

bonus tracks: "Norwegian Wood", "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "I Am The Walrus", "Remington Electric Razor" - The Mothers Of Invention

OTHER NOTEWORTHY RELEASES:

Cracker - Gentleman's Blues

Cracker's 4th album is another consistent set of songs, highlighted by the opening "The Good Life" and the cynical "My Life Is Totally Boring Without You".

cover art "The Good Life", "Seven Days", "Star", "James River", "My Life Is Totally Boring Without You", "Been Around The World", "The World Is Mine", "Lullabye", "Waiting For You Girl", "Trials & Tribulations", "Wild One", "Hold Of Myself", "Gentleman's Blues", "I Want Out Of The Circus", "Wedding Day", "Hallelujah"

Philip Pickett with Richard Thompson - The Bones Of All Men

Like oldies? Well, here's an album of real oldies. The Bones Of All Men is a collection of songs written in the 16th century, with a track each from the 12th and 13th century (Philip Pickett is the Director of Early Music at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, hence the interest). Pickett (on various period woodwinds) along with Sharona Joshua on period keyboards (clavicord, organs, virginals) and Pavlo Beznosiuk (medieval fiddle) team up with guitarist Richard Thompson and his former Fairport Convention band mates Simon Nicol, Dave Pegg and Dave Mattacks. The results are unusual and catchy as hell. If you're looking for something a little different, try this one out.

cover art "The Short Measure Off My Lady Wynkfylds Rownde", "Chi Passa Per Sta Strada", "Fusi Pavana Piana / La Canella / Son Quel Duca de Milano / La Torza", "Le Forze d'Hercole / Lo Ballo Dell'Intorcia", "My Lady Careys Dompe", "Tutte Venite Armati", "Pazzo e Mezo / Pavana In Passo e Mezzo / La Cara Cossa del Berdolin / El Pomo de lo Pomaro / El Marchexe de Saluzzo", "Ein Guter Neuer Dantz / Tedesca Dita La Proficia / Der Mohren Auftzugkh / Branle Hoboken"

ProjeKct Two - Space Groove

Because the six members of King Crimson are often involved with other projects, getting the whole band together for album rehearsals and touring can be quite difficult. Robert Fripp proposed that the band spawn off "R&D units", playing in smaller configurations and trying new things. ProjeKct Two consists of Robert Fripp on guitar, Trey Gunn on Warr Guitar and Adrian Belew on drums playing a hypnotic funky instrumentals that have some of the lushness of "new age", but the bite of rock & roll. It's an interesting listen. The liner notes are fun too, presenting a cheesy science fiction feel to the proceedings (check out those song titles).

cover art "Space Groove II", "Space Groove III", "Space Groove I", "Happy Hour On Planet Zarg", "Is There Life On Zarg?", "Low Life In Sector Q-3", "Sector Shift", "Laura In Space", "Sector Drift", "Sector Patrol", "In Space There Is No North, In Space There Is No South, In Space There Is No East, In Space There Is No West", "Vector Patrol", "Deserts Of Arcadia (North)", "Deserts Of Arcadia (South)", "Snake Drummers Of Sector Q-3", "Escape From Sagittarius A", "Return To Station B"

various artists - Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968

Back in 1972, Lenny Kaye compiled the original Nuggets, a double album of lesser-known garage rock gems from the late 60's. Rhino has reissued the compilation, and Kaye has added three CDs of more "nuggets" to create a 4CD set (the original double album is the first CD in the set). Folks, this is wonderful stuff. You've heard more than you realize ("Dirty Water", "Night Time", "Lies", "Psychotic Reaction", "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)", "Woolly Bully", the original "I Want Candy", "Time Won't Let Me" and a ton of others). If you've got a taste for the songs above, grab this box. You'll love it.

cover art "I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)" - The Electric Prunes, "Dirty Water" - The Standells, "Night Time" - The Strangeloves, "Lies" - The Knickerbockers, "Respect" - The Vagrants, "A Public Execution" - Mouse, "No Time Like The Right Time" - The Blues Project, "Oh Yeah" - The Shadows Of Knight, "Pushin' Too Hard" - The Seeds, "Moulty" - The Barbarians, "Don't Look Back" - The Remains, "An Invitation To Cry" - The Magicians, "Liar, Liar" - The Castaways, "You're Gonna Miss Me" - The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, "Psychotic Reaction" - Count Five, "Hey Joe" - The Leaves, "Romeo & Juliet" - Michael & The Messengers, "Sugar and Spice" - The Cryan Shames, "Baby Please Don't Go" - The Amboy Dukes, "Tobacco Road" - Blues Magoos, "Let's Talk About Girls" - The Chocolate Watchband, "Sit Down, I Think I Love You" - The Mojo Men, "Run, Run, Run" - The Third Rail, "My World Fell Down" - Sagittarius, "Open My Eyes" - Nazz, "Farmer John" - The Premiers, "It's-A-Happening" - The Magic Mushrooms, "Talk Talk" - The Music Machine, "Last Time Around" - The Del-Vetts, "Nobody But Me" - The Human Beinz, "Journey To Tyme" - Kenny & The Kasuals, "No Friend Of Mine" - The Sparkles, "Outside Chance" - The Turtles, "Action Woman" - The Litter, "Spazz" - The Elastik Band, "Sweet Young Thing" - The Chocolate Watchband, "Incense And Peppermints" - Strawbrerry Alarm Clock, "I Ain't No Miracle Worker" - The Brogues, "7 And 7 Is" - Love, "Time Won't Let Me" - The Outsiders, "Going All The Way" - The Squires, "I'm Gonna Make You Mine" - The Shadows Of Knight, "The Trip" - Kim Fowley, "Can't Seem To Make You Mine" - The Seeds, "Why Do I Cry" - The Remains, "Laugh, Laugh" - The Beau Brummels, "The Little Black Egg" - The Nightcrawlers, "I Wonder" - The Gants, "I See The Light" - The Five Americans, "Who Do You Love" - The Woolies, "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" - Swingin' Medallions, "Live" - The Merry-Go-Round, "Steppin' Out" - Paul Revere & The Raiders, "Diddy Wah Diddy" - Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, "Strychnine" - The Sonics, "Little Girl" - Syndicate Of Sound, "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet" - Blues Magoos, "Shape Of Things To Come" - Max Frost & The Troopers, "Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)" - The Hombres, "Fight Fire" - The Golliwogs, "At The River's Edge" - New Colony Six, "Jack Of Diamonds" - The Daily Flash, "Follow Me" - Lyme & Cybelle, "It's Cold Outside" - The Choir, "Beg, Borrow, and Steal" - The Rare Breed, "She's About a Mover" - Sir Douglas Quintet, "Little Bit O'Soul" - The Music Explosion, "Put The Clock Back On The Wall" - The "E" Types, "Falling Sugar" - The Palace Guard, "Run, Run, Run" - The Gestures, "I Need You" - The Rationals, "Knock, Knock" - The Humane Society, "Primitive" - The Groupies, "Psycho" - The Sonics, "So What!!" - The Lyrics, "You Must Be A Witch" - The Lollipop Shoppe, "A Question Of Temperature" - The Balloon Farm, "Maid Of Sugar - Maid Of Spice" - Mouse & The Traps, "You Ain't Tough" - The Uniques, "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White" - The Standells, "She's My Baby" - The Mojo Men, "Story Of My Life" - Unrelated Segments, "I'm Five Years Ahead Of My Time" - The Third Bardo, "Mirror Of Your Mind" - We The People, "Bad Little Woman" - The Shadows Of Knight, "Double Yellow Line" - The Music Machine, "Optical Sound" - The Human Expression, "Journey to The Center Of The Mind" - The Amboy Dukes, "Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)" - The Chocolate Watchband, "Too Many People" - The Leaves, "(Would I Still Be) Her Big Man" - The Brigands, "Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl" - The Barbarians, "Wooly Bully" - Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, "I Want Candy" - The Strangeloves, "Louie, Louie" - The Kingsmen, "One Track Mind" - The Knickerbockers, "Out Of Our Tree" - The Wailers, "I Think I'm Down" - Harbinger Complex, "What Am I Going To Do" - The Dovers, "Codine" - The Charlatans, "Johnny Was A Good Boy" - The Mystery Trend, "Stop - Get A Ticket" - Clefs Of Lavender Hill, "Complication" - The Monks, "The Witch" - The Sonics, "Get Me To The World On Time" - The Electric Prunes, "Mr. Pharmacist" - The Other Half, "Open Up Your Door" - Richard & The Young Lions, "Just Like Me" - Paul Revere & The Raiders, "You Burn Me Up And Down" - We The People, "I Live In The Springtime" - The Lemon Drops, "Mindrocker" - Fenwyck, "Hold Me Now" - The Rumors, "Love's Gone Bad" - The Underdogs, "Why Pick On Me" - The Standells, "Bad Girl" - The Zakary Thaks, "Blackout Of Gretely" - Gonn, "Voices Green And Purple" - The Bees, "Blues' Theme" - Davie Allan & The Arrows

various artists - Chef Aid: The South Park Album

It was inevitable. Capitalizing on the success of South Park is an album based on the "Chef Aid" episode, where the kids held a rock festival to raise money for Chef. The album, frankly, is hit-and-miss. The songs with strong South Park connections are wonderful, the ones without are so-so. On the whole, if you're a fan of the show, it's definitely worth it.

cover art "South Park Theme" - Primus, "Nowhere To Run (Vapor Trail)" - The Crystal Method With Ozzy Osbourne, DMX, Ol' Dirty Bastard & Fuzzbubble, "Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)" - Chef, "Brad Logan" - Rancid, "Come Sail Away" - Eric Cartman, "Kenny's Dead" - Master P, "Simultaneous" - Chef, "Will They Die 4 You" - Mase, Puffy, Lil' Kim, & System Of A Down, "Hot Lava" - Perry Farrell & D.V.D.A., "Bubblegoose" - Wyclef Jean Featuring Stan, Kyle, Cartman & Kenny, "No Substitute" - Chef, "Wake Up Wendy" - Elton John, "Horny" - Mousse T. vs. Hot 'N' Juicy, "Huboon Stomp" - Devo, "Love Gravy" - Rick James & Ike Turner, "Feel Like Makin' Love" - Ned Gerblansky, "The Rainbow" - Ween, "Tonight Is Right For Love" - Chef & Meat Loaf, "It's A Rockin' World" - Joe Strummer, "Mephisto And Kevin" - Primus, "Mentally Dull (Think Tank Remix)" - Vitro Featuring The Cast Of South Park

THE TOP TEN FOR 1998

(in my unbearably less-than-humble opinion)

10) Eric Bogosian - Pounding Nails In The Floor With My Forehead

Better known for his movies roles and his play, SubUrbia, Eric Bogosian is a wonderfully unusual performer on stage. His collections of character monologues are interesting, funny, and occasionally scary. Pounding Nails is taken from his most recent work. Among the characters are a drug dealer named Red dealing with a customer, a fan trying to talk to his hero, a self-help guru and an angry, violent man trying to come to terms with the voices in his head. Challenging and funny all at the same time.

cover art "Molecules", "Intro", "Inner Baby", "Glass", "Red", "Fan", "Recovering Male", "Medicine", "Blow Me"

9) Semisonic - Feeling Strangely Fine

Let by the hits "Closing Time" and "Singing In My Sleep", Feeling Strangely Fine is a terrific collection of modern rock. On top of those two, given some airplay "Secret Smile", "DND" and "Never You Mind" could also be big hits. If you like "Closing Time", definitely check this one out.

cover art "Closing Time", "Singing In My Sleep", "Made To Last", "Never You Mind", "Secret Smile", "DND", "Completely Pleased", "This Will Be My Year", "All Worked Out", "California", "She Spreads Her Wings", "Gone To The Movies"

8) Beck - Mutations

Described by Beck as a "parenthetical album", Mutations is much mellower than Odelay, with a psychedelic folk feel to a lot of the songs. In fact, "Bottle Of Blues" is very much in the vein of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Other highlights include the salsa-flavored "Tropicalia" and the cool opener "Cold Brains". This album will probably be a bit of a shock to someone expecting another "Loser" or "Where It's At", but this is definitely worth a listen.

cover art "Cold Brains", "Nobody's Fault But My Own", "Lazy Flies", "Cancelled Check", "We Live Again", "Tropicalia", "Dead Melodies", "Bottle Of Blues", "O Maria", "Sing It Again", "Static", "Diamond Bollocks"

7) Adrian Belew - Belewprints

Belewprints is Adrian Belew's second go-round at an all acoustic album. Like the first (The Acoustic Adrian Belew), Belewprints removes Belew's innovative electric guitar work and let's his voice and the songs shine by themselves. Highlights include a lush "Men In Helicopters" (with a string section accompanying him) and a live cover of John Lennon's "Free As A Bird", complete with Belew mumbling instead of singing the extra lyrics added for The Beatles Anthology album much to the delight of the crowd.

cover art "Men In Helicopters", "Cage", "I Remember How To Forget", "Young Lions", "Never Enough", "Things You Hit With A Stick", "Everything", "Big Blue Sun", "Bad Days", "One Of Those Days", "Return Of The Chicken", "Dinosaur", "1967", "Free As A Bird", "Nude Wrestling With A Christmas Tree"

6) Harvey Danger - Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone?

A great debut, full of catchy, powerful, punky pop songs. The album opens with a strong one-two punch of "Carlotta Valdez" and the unbelievably catchy "Flagpole Sitta" ("I'm not sick, man, but I'm not well ..."). Great, great stuff. I can't wait to hear a followup.

cover art "Carlotta Valdez", "Flagpole Sitta", "Woolly Muffler", "Private Helicopter", "Problems And Bigger Ones", "Jack The Lion", "Old Hat", "Terminal Annex", "Wrecking Ball", "Radio Silence"

5) Amy Rigby - Middlescence

Middlescence is a wonderful collection of folk, rock and pop songs with witty, clever lyrics focused largely on entering middle age. Highlights include the "Summertime Blues"-ish "As Is", a song about buying from the sale rack, the catchy, Byrdsy opener "All I Want" and the hidden closing track "Give The Drummer Some". Wonderful.

cover art "All I Want", "The Summer Of My Wasted Youth", "Raising The Bar", "What I Need", "Calling Professor Longhair", "Dirty Bridge", "Ivory Tower", "20th Anniversary", "For New Times' Sake", "Laboratory Of Love", "As Is", "Invisible", "Give The Drummer Some"

4) Scrawl - Nature Film

Nature Film is half a collection of new songs and half a collection of rerecorded songs from previous Scrawl albums, with a cover of PiL's "Public Image" thrown in for good measure. I'd heard Scrawl's last release (Travel On, Rider) and liked it, but Nature Film just blew me away. From the grungy opener "Rot" to the playful "Charles" to the inspired PiL cover, there isn't a bad song on here. Great punky playing, great singing, great songs. Get this.

cover art "Rot", "You Make It A Crime", "Charles", "Don't We Always Get There?", "Standing Around", "Public Image", "11:59 (It's January)", "Clock Song", "Everyone I Saw Tonight", "Nature Film", "For Your Sister", "100 Car Pile-Up", "Guess I'll Wait"

3) R.E.M. - Up

As the sessions for Up began, drummer Bill Berry told the band he wanted out as long as he was assured the band wouldn't break up over his departure. The new trio started over on the album, looking for a new sound. The end result is another slight change of pace for R.E.M. Some of Up is reminiscent of the lighter songs on Out Of Time and Automatic For The People, and the rest is out of left field, especially the moody, atmospheric opener "Airportman". "At My Most Beautiful" is an attempt to write a Brian Wilson-style pure love song, and it's one of the best things R.E.M. has ever done. Other highlights include the edgy "Lotus", the gorgeous "Daysleeper" and the dramatic "Sad Professor". R.E.M. has somehow managed to keep reinventing itself over the years, and haven't lost a step along the way. In some ways, it's hard to believe the band that recorded Chronic Town and Murmur back in the early 80's is the same band that recorded Up, but it still does sound like R.E.M. Somehow, they've done it again.

cover art "Airportman", "Lotus", "Suspicion", "Hope", "At My Most Beautiful", "The Apologist", "Sad Professor", "You're In The Air", "Walk Unafraid", "Why Not Smile", "Daysleeper", "Diminished", "I'm Not Over You", "Parakeet", "Falls To Climb"

2) Bob Mould - The Last Dog And Pony Show

The tour to support The Last Dog And Pony Show was Bob's last electric band tour, and he's hinted that while his current electric sound may show up on future albums, he's definitely looking for something new. It's a hell of a final statement, full of power both in the crushing guitar work and in the heavy lyrics, largely about breaking up or trying to start over. The album's got a real left turn near the end in a techno/hip-hop/sample-driven track called "Megamanic". It's completely unlike Mould's other work with no guitar and silly, playful lyrics, but it's an interesting diversion. In interviews, Mould's said that the song pretty much saved the album because he was getting tired of writing "Bob Mould songs" and needed a change. Working on something that different fired him back up to complete the album. If you've read my writeups over the years, you know I'm a big Mould fan, and this album absolutely delivers again. It's better than Bob Mould, which was my album of the year for 1996.

cover art "New #1", "Moving Trucks", "Taking Everything", "First Drag Of The Day", "Classifieds", "Who Was Around?", "Skintrade", "Vaporub", "Sweet Serene", "Megamanic", "Reflecting Pool", "Along The Way"

1) Eels - Electro-Shock Blues

It's been often noted that great art seems to arise from tragedy. In the case of Eels leader E, the tragedy was staggering. Shortly after the release of the band's debut album Beautiful Freak, E's sister Elizabeth committed suicide. Before the year was out, E's mother was diagnosed with cancer, which did eventually claim her life. E's father had died years previous, so his mother's illness faced him with the end of his entire family. Electro-Shock Blues is a powerful album that focuses on the pain of losing loved ones and finding the strength to go on. Several of the songs are written from Elizabeth's point of view, which adds an extra emotional impact. Musically, the album is similar to the sound of Beautiful Freak, but more dramatic. Folks, this is a very heavy, serious, powerful album and a must hear.

cover art "Elizabeth On The Bathroom Floor", "Going To Your Funeral Part I", "Cancer For The Cure", "My Descent Into Madness", "3 Speed", "Hospital Food", "Electro-Shock Blues", "Efils' God", "Going To Your Funeral Part II", "Last Stop: This Town", "Baby Genius", "Climbing To The Moon", "Ant Farm", "Dead Of Winter", "The Medication Is Wearing Off", "P.S. You Rock My World"


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Owen Gwilliam

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