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The Best Albums of 2009

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

It’s that time of year when self-absorbed bloggers and music geeks prepare their Top 10 Albums of the Year lists. Of course, the mainstream media trots out Beyonce and U2 while the hipsters try to out-obscure each other by only choosing albums by artists that no one has ever heard of. I guess I’m somewhere in between, so some of you will find my list a bit too mainstream (Pearl Jam, Jay-Z) while others of you will raise an eyebrow at the lesser-known stuff (Polvo? Magnolia who?).

Since I couldn’t narrow it down to just 10 albums, I cheated creatively by breaking it into categories plus two Top 10’s. It doesn’t matter. I think there are more albums on this list than there are readers of this blog.

Best Rock Album
Polvo – In Prism

Best Americana/Alt.Country Album
The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You

Best Hip-Hop Album
Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx 2

Best Jazz Album
Allen Toussaint – The Bright Mississippi

Best Traditional R&B / Rockin Soul Party Album
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is!

The Top 10 Albums

Them Crooked Vultures

The Dead Weather – Horehound

Mos Def – The Ecstatic

Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses – Roadhouse Sun

Sonic Youth – The Eternal

The Black Crowes – Before the Frost/Until the Freeze

Pearl Jam – Backspacer

Regina Spektor – Far

Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard – One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: Music From Kerouac’s Big Sur

The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love

The Next 10 (this list goes up to 11!)

Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar

KRS-One and Buckshot – Survival Skills

Magnolia Electric Co. – Joesphine

John Wesley Harding – Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead

Mars Volta – Octahedron

Wilco (the Album)

Eminem – Relapse

Ben Kweller – Changing Horses

Jay Z – Blueprint 3

Levon Helm – Electric Dirt

Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band – Outer South

Best Remaster/Reissue
The Beatles catalog 09.09.09

Best Re-imagined/Re-recorded Album
Stephen Marley – Mind Control (Acoustic)

Best Live Album
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – The Live Anthology

Best Collection of Outtakes/Unreleased Odds’n’ends
Drive-By Truckers – Fine Print

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

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