Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Numbers 25, 24 and 23

Rock On Gold Dust Woman: Stevie Nicks warns people about the Sister of the Moon. Yeah, you read that right, the moon has sisters. Is that weird or what?
Time to add three more to my 100 Favorite CD list and shake it like a Polaroid picture (sorry, Outkast is playing on the IPOD). On this round we have Bay Area Punks, Beantown Blues Rockers and a Gypsy Woman to throw on the CD player.

Number 25: Green Day American Idiot (2004)

When Green Day exploded on the rock scene with Dookie (1994) they were revered as the return of Punk. Then when they couldn't match Dookie, they were dismissed as one hit wonders. It didn't seem likely that a Pop Punk band writing a concept album would make a comeback vehicle, but the Berkeley trio bucked the odds when they returned with a vengeance on American Idiot. The story of a disaffected suburban teen who gets lost in his outsider world of drugs ("Give Me Novocaine") and infatuation ("Extraordinary Girl") connects as the music pounds out a feeling of unfocused rage. A slew of hits spawned from this disc, the sardonic punk of the title track, the up-in-arms Holiday and the depressed Boulevard of Broken Dreams. It's all topped off with the poignant ballad Wake Me When September Ends complete with a topical video of young love and war. A real challenge and accomplishment artistically, Green Day even puts the Punk ethos of short-fast-loud on its head with two ten minute multi segment tracks ("Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming"). A complete and cohesive album from a Punk band.

Number 24: Aerosmith - Toys In The Attic (1975)

When music critics hail the best this Boston based band has to offer, they almost universally cite Rocks (1976). That is a great album, no doubt, but my preference is the slightly goofier Toys in the Attic. In any case Aerosmith was in full swing by the mid 70's and Attic contained 9 cuts of limber blues rock. The classic rock staples Sweet Emotion and Walk This Way groove and shake providing an anchor for the rest of the album. The band shows range between the rampaging Title Cut and the retro blues of Big Ten Inch Record. For me, the highlight is the straight ahead Arena Rock of No More No More. Yes, Aerosmith would rock harder and sell more records after Attic but this album has the right mix of indelible riffs and sleazy fun for me.

Number 23: Stevie Nicks - Bella Donna (1981)

I think I've mentioned before I was so into Stevie Nicks as a teenager that my parents referred to her as "my girlfriend". Back in the day I was hot for Ms. Nicks with her warbly voice, low cut lace tops and witchy woman ways. I even followed her through her late 80's slump of illegal drug addiction followed by her early 90's slump of prescription drug addiction. It's funny, but in 1990 I had a sort of epiphany as I played this tape in my car - I really liked her singing and songwriting separate from her looks. Now this is probably not the most macho thing I can write, Nicks writes in all these metaphors about snow covered mountains, white winged doves and maybe even little ponies that ride on candy colored rainbows for what my memory is worth. And one of the best put downs of her famous voice I've heard included the phrase "Black and Decker Vibrator". Yet in her best work (meaning Fleetwood Mac and her first two solo albums) at the center of her mystique is real emotion and artistic originality.

Bella Donna is one of the best examples of what Nicks is capable of, hooking up with Tom Petty Producer and future Interscope Records guru Jimmy Iovine (both figuratively and literally) Nicks rock sound toughens up and has a little more twang than her Fleetwood Mac work. The jittery guitar of Edge of Seventeen launches Nicks into a fanciful eulogy of death and remembrance of youth. To ensure some chart action, Nicks stacked the deck by having two duets: the first being the Tom Petty penned Stop Draggin My Heart Around performed with the man himself. The second is the ballad inspired by Waylon Jennings and his wife, Leather and Lace, trading lead vocals with the slightly less raspy Don Henley. Other album tracks hold up well, like the countryish "After the Glitter Fades" and the slow trance like "Kind of Woman". The extended length Title Song serves as a mission statement even if I can't make literal sense out of the lyrics. Stevie Nicks channels both sensitivity and fury with a touch of bittersweet resignation. And she looked great on the album cover too.

To close I think I will write out one of those Stevie Nicks sentences...that have a...lot


Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Nice choices, Mr. Mike. I didn't really like Green Day when they first hit, but American Idiot drew me in.
Aerosmith, Toys in the Attic. I still have that album. Altho I don't have a turn table to play it on any longer. :) That's the only album/tape/CD I own from them. It was and still is terrific!
Stevie Nicks... love her and hate her both. She's just that kind of woman, I guess.

Mr. Mike said...

Thanks some kinda wonderful! I'm glad to hear you have the Aerosmith record, I miss vinyl sometimes. I used to really like them until it became a storage problem and near impossible to get a good record needle in the 90's.