Archive for November, 2009

Rick Rubin’s Resume

Posted in music, top 10 lists with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Actually, Rick Rubin’s Resume would be a cool name for a band, assuming he didn’t sue you. Anyway, wow. He not only has produced influential debuts from the Beastie Boys to LL Cool J to Run DMC to Public Enemy, but in the process proved that rock and rap could co-exist. He’s pretty much responsible for Johnny Cash’s late-career comeback and produced the flourish of albums at the end of Cash’s life. He produced a mid-career masterpiece for Tom Petty, almost all of the Slayer albums, and I think every Chili Peppers record since and starting with the classic Blood Sugar Sex Magik. He’s done solo/acoustic records for Neil Diamond and Jakob Dylan, alt-rock stuff like Slipknot, and produced the album that contains “Baby Got Back.” Most recently he got the unfocused and feuding Metallica to stop putting out crap and make a classic-sounding Metallica album and then produced a great rootsy folksy ditty for indie favorites the Avett Brothers. That kind of variety is what makes him incredible. He’s done everything at every end of every spectrum and everywhere in between and most of it is great. Sometimes all within the same year.

He started work with U2 on their most recent album but those sessions were shelved and never heard, as the boys when back to Lanois/Eno to do No Line on the Horizon. I heard, or read… or read on the internet that someone heard… anyway, this reliable source said that Rubin is a hardass, and he won’t just take and record the first 10 songs you show up with. He’ll send you back to write more and tell you to do better. Maybe Bono and the Edge didn’t like that and they wanted Yes Men at the controls? Maybe Rubin thought U2’s new stuff sucked and told them to get lost? Who knows. Just adds to the legend.

But the real legend is in his resume. It’s one thing to say “damn, go read this guy’s Wiki page!” It’s another to then realize that there’s a separate Wikipedia page for his Album Production Credits! Check out his bio on allmusic.com and click “credits” and take a look.

My Top 10 Favorite Albums Produced by Rick Rubin:

1986: Raising Hell – Run-DMC

1987: Yo! Bum Rush the Show – Public Enemy

1988: South of Heaven – Slayer

1991: Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers

1994: American Recordings – Johnny Cash

1994: Wildflowers – Tom Petty

2000: Renegades – Rage Against the Machine

2003: De-Loused in the Comatorium – The Mars Volta

2008: Death Magnetic – Metallica

2009: I and Love and You – The Avett Brothers

The Top 10 Albums Produced by Rick Rubin that didn’t make the list above:

1985: Radio – LL Cool J

1986: Licensed to Ill – Beastie Boys

1986: Reign in Blood – Slayer

1987: Electric – The Cult

1988: Danzig – Danzig

1998: Chef Aid: The South Park Album – South Park

1999: Californication – Red Hot Chili Peppers

2001: Toxicity – System of a Down

2002: American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash

2002: By the Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Best Albums of the Decade 2000’s

Posted in music, top 10 lists, Uncategorized with tags , , , on Friday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

Originally, I set out to compile my list of the Top 20 Albums of the Decade. The 2000’s. Or the Aughts. Yea, I guess we never got around to naming this decade and now it’s already ending. I thought I was realistic by not even attempting a Top 10 Best Albums of the 2000’s, but it turns out even 20 proved difficult. And once I passed 20, the albums just kept flowing and then I thought “okay, Top 40 would be good, since “Top 40” is sort of a tried and true phrase in popular music. Then I hit 50. OK, I’ll do a Top 50, why not! Then I got to 52 and beyond and finally just gave up and let myself list all the great albums I loved this decade and not worry about cutting any out just to keep the list at 20, 40 or 50. So I ended up with 65. Seems a bit excessive, sure. But it’s still only about 6 or 7 per year. And I easily could have added a few more. Actually, I could just call this a Top 50 Best Albums of the Decade list because they’re not numbered, and if you actually read through it and count the exact number of albums, I’m just glad you’re on my blog.

Please add your Top 5, 10, or 65 favorite albums of the decade (or point out my glaring omissions) in the comments section. Now, on with the list…

Mos Def – Black on Both Sides (1999)
First album on the list and I’m already cheating. This one came out just a couple months before 2000, and is such a great album. One of the best hip-hop albums of all time, even if you don’t see it on such lists in the mainstream media. So why not kick off this list with the last great album of the previous century?

2000

Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R

OutKast – Stankonia

Aimee Mann – Bachelor No. 2, or the last remains of the dodo

Talib Kweli & Hi Tek – Reflection Eternal

Radiohead – Kid A

U2 – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
It’s pretty easy to hate on these grandiose mega-stars, but this was and is a truly great U2 album made several years after most of us figured they’d never do it again.

D’Angelo – Voodoo

Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele

2001

Bob Dylan – Love and Theft

Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
This one would probably make the list even there were only 5 albums on it. Songwriting, atmosphere, and using the studio as an instrument without getting too cute or overdoing it. It’s all here, a classic peak from a great band.

Tool – Lateralus

Jay Z – The Blueprint

Whiskeytown – Pneumonia

2002

Sonic Youth – Murray Street
This is how I love my Sonic Youth. This album and the three that have followed are all really good. I actually like this (and those other recent ones) more than their old classics. Blasphemy for hardcore SY fans and a nation of hipsters, I know.

Elvis Costello – When I Was Cruel

Bright Eyes – Lifted, Or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

The Roots – Phrenology
A bit all over the place stylistically and a bit long, but still mostly brilliant. It’s like their White Album.

2003

Drive-By Truckers – Decoration Day
The underrated gem in their stellar catalogue. I shoulda/coulda put all of their albums from this decade on the list.

Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

Mars Volta – De-Loused in the Comatorium
Crazy intense mindfuck jams mixed with tribal rhythms and pure relentless rock fury.

The White Stripes – Elephant

The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music

OutKast – Speakerbox/The Love Below
Split into two mostly solo discs, illustrating the two sides of the OutKast coin and allowing BigBoi and Dre to let each of their distinct musical personalities shine while still feeling like a(nother) brilliant OutKast record.

Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co.

2004

Masta Killa – No Said Date
A lost gem from an underrated member of the Wu-Tang Clan. The Wu family has put out so many albums over the years (and a few duds after the initial string of classic solo joints) that it was easy for this one to get lost in the shuffle. Do yourself a favor and track this one down, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell

PJ Harvey – Uh Huh Her

Jello Biafra & the Melvins – Don’t Breathe What You Can’t See
Legends team up for some post-9/11 punk fury and rockin’ jams.

Green Day – American Idiot

Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose

Danger Mouse – The Grey Album
A classic mashup of The Beatles White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album. Somehow it works beyond just the novelty and is a truly great listen.

2005

DJ Muggs/GZA the Genius – Grandmasters

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl

Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning

Damian “Jr Gong” Marley – Welcome to Jamrock
Title song is one of the hottest tracks of all time. The rest of the album is also very solid.

My Morning Jacket – Z

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – Cold Roses

Common – Be

The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan

2006

Tom Petty – Highway Companion
A vastly underrated album from TP. Is it possible that this is his best album, so late in his career? It’s certainly great enough to be in that discussion. Check out this hidden gem if you missed it or ignored it a few years ago.

The Roots – Game Theory

Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped

Built to Spill – You in Reverse

Bob Dylan – Modern Times

2007

Terence Blanchard – A Tale of God’s Will (A Requiem for Katrina)
Haunting, moving, and uplifting sounds from one of the true jazz greats of this generation.

Band of Horses – Cease to Begin

Stephen Marley – Mind Control

Public Enemy – How You Sell Soul To a Soulless People Who Lost Their Soul?
Another one that slipped under the radar. It’s really hard to make a great hip-hop album these days (or maybe it’s just too easy to make bad ones that still sell a lot), and I think it’s really hard for a legendary group to do it almost 20 years after they made a couple of the best hip-hop albums of all time. Sure they’ve had a few duds in between, but this one hits the mark.

Robert Plant/Alison Krauss – Raising Sand

Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

Radiohead – In Rainbows

2008

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Real Emotional Trash

The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!

Beck – Modern Guilt

Willie Nelson & Wynton Marsalis – Two Men with the Blues
Odd pairing, but terrific results. Really fun album… while the two main men don’t disappoint, Wynton’s solid backing band keeps it moving.

One Day as a Lion – One Day as a Lion

2009

John Wesley Harding – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead

Polvo – In Prism

The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

Black Crowes – Before the Frost/Until the Freeze

Ryan Bingham – Roadhouse Sun

Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx 2

Jack White This Decade

Posted in music, top 10 lists, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on Tuesday, 2009 by Todd.Levinson.Frank

I’m working on my "Best Albums of the 2000’s" to be posted soon. A Top 10 seemed too limiting, so I was gonna do 20. Looks like it’s gonna end up being a Top 50. It’s tough being a music nerd. In the meantime, here’s what Jack White has done this decade. What’s up with 2002? What a slacker!!

2000: The White Stripes, De Stijl
2001: The White Stripes, White Blood Cells; White founds Third Man Records
2003: The White Stripes, Elephant; White contributes to Cold Mountain soundtrack and appears in the film
2004: White produces and performs on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose
2005: The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan
2006: The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers
2007: The White Stripes, Icky Thump
2008: The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely; White records “Another Way to Die” with Alicia Keys for Bond flick Quantum of Solace
2009: The Dead Weather, Horehound; White Stripes tour film Under the Great White Northern Lights premieres at Toronto Film Festival; White stars in guitar love-note doc It Might Get Loud with Jimmy Page and U2’s The Edge

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.