Bono saving the world one football stadium at a time
A lot of time has gone by since I’ve updated my 100 Favorite CD list, I missed all of January. To make up for lost time, I’m going to hit Numbers 19 thru 14 this round.
Number 19: U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2001)
My favorite U2 album, one that seemed destined to be. When U2 released this CD fans were buzzing about the reduced presence of techno that have pervaded their 90’s work. Beautiful Day was all over the place, a soaring upbeat piece of old school U2. Then 9/11 happened and though this was released before the tragedy, the times changed how I perceived the album. The slow healing in songs like Walk On and Stuck In A Moment and You Can’t Get Out Of It became the soundtrack to the weeks that followed. At the same time, the Lara Croft worthy Elevation brought a rush of disco rock to keep the album from becoming a ballad fest.
Number 18: AC / DC – Highway To Hell (1979)
The last album with the late Bon Scott, Highway To Hell was amped, driven sleaze streamlined and sharpened by super Producer Mutt Lange. The take no prisoners approach included the classic title track anthem (a song that meant a lot to us in Catholic school), the ultimate middle finger to the establishment at the time. Girls Got Rhythm, Beating Around The Bush and Touch Too Much brought hooks, humor and slamming power chords to the party. AC / DC would go on to further greatness, but they were never more dangerous than here.
Number 17: Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream (1993)
Billy Corgan went all Tom Scholz and took over the studio recordings, freezing bassist D’Arcy and second guitarist James Iha out of the creative process. Handling almost everything but the drums, Siamese Dream became the Alt rock answer to Boston: Tight, layered sonics with songs buried under mountains of guitar tracks. The Guitar Hero classic Cherub Rock took aim at Corgan’s detractors while the 120 minutes ready Today and the dramatic ballad Disarm tore up the MTV rotation. I bought the disc during a camping trip with my wife a few years later, who knew grungy riffola on cuts like Geek USA or Rocket would go so well with hot dogs and beer?
Number 16: Def Leppard – Pyromania (1983)
Mutt Lange (there’s that name again) followed up on his work with the prior record by taking an even more meticulous approach to recording. By the time recording finished, the band had switched lead guitarists and had a near perfect pop metal album when that idea was still new. Photograph made the Lep darlings of MTV as the follow up video singles Rock of Ages and Foolin’ became part of a generational vocabulary (Unta Gleebin Glossen Globen). Flamethrower rockers like Rock Rock Til You Drop and Comin Under Fire blazed through my little walkman as the ballad Too Late For Love got heavy radio play. Union Jack and snotty attitude ensured the Lep lots of coverage in Circus magazine as they dominated the Hard Rock field with their polished sound.
Number 15: Peter Gabriel – So (1986)
He seemed so unlikely to become a Pop star, yet that’s what happened when Gabriel made a stop motion video about his Sledgehammer. His combo of Progressive rock melodies with world beat rhythms, personal subject matter and atmospheric synths became irresistible. Big Time was the other big hit as slight a song as it is. What pushed he album over the top was In Your Eyes, a minor hit made into a pop culture phenomenon once John Cusack held a boombox over his head in the film Say Anything. This album was part of the backdrop to my college years that sounds as deep and fascinating now as it did then.
Number 14: Journey – Greatest Hits (1988)
One of the best selling albums of all time and with good reason, Steve Perry and crew collated their best soaring rock anthems and power ballads into a single set. Focused squarely on the bands peak period of 1978 to 1987, Greatest Hits serves up classics like Don’t Stop Believin and Faithfully alongside medium sized hits like Girl Can’t Help It and Send Her My Love. While fans like myself can quibble about what’s not there (No Stone in Love, no Anytime, no Line of Fire, etc) if you want a solid shot of what made this Bay Area band great you can’t do better.
And that’s it for this round, we’re getting close to the Top 10 of the list. I may actually finish this list this year. Yay!