Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Favorite 50 Albums of the Decade

My Favorite 50 Albums of the Decade, 9/20/09

Thanks to a Facebook invitation, I’m compelled to engage in one of the most inane and narcissistic endeavors – the compilation of a personal favorites list – and not a moment too soon – there’s barely 100 days left in the decade. Of course, I have a whole website (Davesmusicdatabase.com) devoted to music lists, but I’ve convinced myself that throwing in the occasional personal favorites list amongst bigger and more important lists passes for acceptable. A list entitled “The Biggest Selling Albums of All Time” just seems to carry more import than one called “The Best 50 Albums of the Decade – According to Me.”

It is hard to imagine why anyone would care what my #12 album is from the last 9 years and 9 months, so I won’t delude myself that the world is waiting with baited breath. It comes down to this – I just love music lists. I was drawn in to music charts and countdowns in my pre-teen years and my interest has yet to wane.

If you’ve read this far, I’ll assume you are mildly interested in my list – maybe not #49, but you might want to check out my top few faves. I’ll take this as a misguided sign that I can test your patience a bit more and offer some insights into my tastes of the past decade. If you’ve had enough already, you can scroll to the list below or just close this monster up and roll your eyes at my obsession. It’s not like I’ll know the difference.
First, there’s just no denying what drives tastes. I’m still enamored with the same acts I liked 25 years ago – and I won’t apologize for their decidedly mainstream leanings. I will, however, attempt to prop up my rep by saying my listening pleasures gravitate toward “intelligent pop” – what is largely referred to today as triple A or adult alternative music. What can I say – I fit perfectly into the demographic.

Unlike some of my forty-something peers, it isn’t that I can’t name a new band from the last quarter century – I’ll get to my discoveries in a minute – but like memories of long ago crushes, the albums from one’s youth just won’t go away. Hence my love of Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood (my favorite album of any era), Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. or U2’s The Joshua Tree hold lingering effects – those acts all register in my top 10 two decades after releasing what I consider their masterworks.

At least those acts and others such as John Mellencamp, Tori Amos, and Fish have steadily pumped out new product for 20 years or more. Others haven’t been quite so prolific. Amongst acts like the Hooters, Crowded House, the Eagles, Toni Childs, Tears for Fears, Guns N’ Roses, and the Who, the most recent pre-2000 release of new material was 1995. Not only had all those acts had at least nine year droughts since their last releases, but the well has dried up again since. The “one and done” comeback trend. Sigh.

My list isn’t devoid of new music, but the new stuff largely rehashes tastes I’ve had for years. The White Stripes, the Strokes, the Hives, and the Vines are all a return to the garage rock ethos of the ‘60s and ‘70s. The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and Scissor Sisters recall the dance-oriented new wave stuff of the early ‘80s.Finally, I have to give props to the Tuesday Night Music Club. This may click for people as the name of Sheryl Crow’s 1993 debut (and indeed she makes the cut here with Detours), but I’m referring to the collective behind it. In a much publicized spat at the time, Crow took credit for music that had been created by the most underrated supergroup that ever wasn’t. Amongst that talent was Kevin Gilbert, whose posthumous Shaming of the True claims my top spot on this list, Gilbert’s Kaviar project, and David Baerwald. Believe me, this list would be saturated with their contributions if only there were more. Sadly, KG died in 1996 and Baerwald all but retired from the music industry by the close of the ‘90s. What does show up on this list are retreads of their mostly ‘90s work, but the official release dates qualifies them for this list.

Well, I’ve blabbered enough. Here’s the list. Roll those eyes, scratch your heads in puzzlement, and stare in disbelief. Then, just maybe, give a few albums on this list a spin. You’ve still got time to make it one of your favorites of the decade! Click on the links below to read more extensive reviews at Davesmusicdatabase.com.

1. Kevin Gilbert The Shaming of the True (2000)
2. Bruce Springsteen The Rising (2002)
3. Hooters Time Stand Still (2007)
4. Crowded House Time on Earth (2007)
5. The Finn Brothers Everyone Is Here (2004)
6. Eagles Long Road Out of Eden (2007)
7. Marillion Marbles (2004)
8. Tori Amos Strange Little Girls (2001)
9. U2 How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb (2004)
10. Bruce Springsteen Magic (2007)
11. David Baerwald Here Comes the New Folk Underground (2002)
12. John Mellencamp Life, Death, Love & Freedom (2008)
13. U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000)
14. Toni Childs Keep the Faith (2008)
15. Dennis DeYoung One Hundred Years from Now (2007)
16. Uncle Devil Show A Terrible Beauty (2004)
17. Bob Walkenhorst The Beginner (2003)
18. Styx Big Bang Theory (2005)
19. The White Stripes Elephant (2003)
20. The Strokes Is This It (2001)
21. Green Day American Idiot (2004)
22. Mika Life in Cartoon Motion (2007)
23. The White Stripes White Blood Cells (2001)
24. Kevin Gilbert/Kaviar The Kaviar Sessions (2002)
25. Tears for Fears Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (2004)
26. Keb’ Mo’ Peace - Back by Popular Demand (2004)
27. Lyle Lovett My Baby Don’t Tolerate (2003)
28. Amy Winehouse Back to Black (2006)
29. Styx Cylcorama (2003)
30. The Killers Hot Fuss (2004)
31. Sheryl Crow Detours (2008)
32. The Who Endless Wire (2006)
33. John Mellencamp Freedom’s Road (2007)
34. Fish Field of Crows (2004)
35. Glenn Tilbrook Transatlantic Ping Pong (2004)
36. Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand (2004)
37. Ray Charles Genius Loves Company (2004)
38. Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy (2008)
39. Green Day 21st Century Breakdown (2009)
40. U2 No Line on the Horizon (2009)
41. Johnny Cash American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)
42. Scissor Sisters Scissor Sisters (2004)
43. The Vines Highly Evolved (2002)
44. Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)
45. The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)
46. Eddie Vedder Into the Wild (2007)
47. Eric Clapton/B.B. King Riding with the King (2000)
48. Del Amitri Can You Do Me Good? (2002)
49. The Hives Veni Vidi Vicious (2000)
50. Eric Woolfson The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was (2009)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sept 18, 2009: Madonna released career-spanning Celebration

Last updated September 15, 2018.

Madonna Compilations

These are some of the most prominent Madonna collections released over the years.

  1. The Immaculate Collection
  2. GHV2
  3. Celebration

Click here to see all the album tracks featured on the above collections.


Genre: pop/dance


Related DMDB Link(s):

Madonna: The Immaculate Collection

Recorded: 1983-1990


Released: Nov. 9, 1990


Sales (in millions): US: 10.0, UK: 3.4, IFPI: --, World: 31.5


Peak: US: 2, UK: 19, Canada: 19, Australia: 15

Quotable: The Immaculate Collection…captures everything Madonna is about and it proves that she was one of the finest singles artists of the ‘80s” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards:

Review:

“Yes, she’s a colossal star, one who has been both mall icon and cultural radical for almost two decades.” BL “Madonna was a change-agent of Hollywood-blockbuster proportions, embodying womanhood’s power while simultaneously upending musty notions of femininity. Whether she’s extolling escapism, wrestling with heartbreak, personalizing big issues or just breathing heavily, each listen shows that Madonna’s unerring musical instincts – let’s go ahead and call it genius – were as formidable as her more famous ambition.” BL

“On the surface, the single-disc hits compilation The Immaculate Collection appears to be a definitive retrospective of Madonna’s heyday in the ‘80s.” E-I In its October 2008 issue, Blender magazine went so far as to name it the #1 Greatest American Album, calling it “a flawless hits package.” BL “After all, it features 17 of Madonna's greatest hits, from Holiday and Like a Virgin to Like a Prayer and Vogue. However, looks can be deceiving.” E-I

The Immaculate Collection contains the bulk of Madonna’s hits, but there are several big hits that aren’t present, including ‘Angel,’ ‘Dress You Up,’ ‘True Blue,’ ‘Who’s That Girl,’ and ‘Causing a Commotion.’” E-I It still “remains a necessary purchase, because it captures everything Madonna is about” E-I – “whip-smart, mega-sexy, covertly dangerous and heart-stoppingly, ass-shakingly, world-shapingly fun.” BL “It proves that she was one of the finest singles artists of the ‘80s.” E-I

Madonna: GHV2

Recorded: 1991-2000


Released: Nov. 13, 2001


Sales (in millions): US: 1.48, UK: 0.8, IFPI: 2.0, World: 7.0


Peak: US: 11, UK: 2, Canada: 3, Australia: 8

Awards:

Review:

“During the ‘90s, Madonna was a true album artist, even as she was making singles as tremendous as Take a Bow, Deeper and Deeper, Ray of Light, Don’t Tell Me, and the non-LP Beautiful Stranger.” E-G “These songs don't really hold together when taken together, since they were designed to be part of a bigger context – either their parent album or the airwaves of the time.” E-G

As such, the GHV2 collection, released to collect the hits from Madonna’s next decade, “seem[s] to have songs missing when it really doesn’t.” E-G In addition, “the non-chronological sequencing…tends to rob this collection of Madonna’s ‘90s hits of any momentum it might have had.” E-G Also, “the very presence of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, which simply does not feel comfortable next to the rest of the savvy, modern music here.” E-G

“Taken on their own, most of these are still pretty tremendous, but tossed together on GHV2, the end result is less than the sum of its parts, even if this is a good way to get all of Madge’s ‘90s hits at once.” E-G

Madonna: Celebration

Recorded: 1982-2009


Released: Sept. 18, 2009


Sales (in millions): US: 0.5, UK: 0.6, IFPI: 1.0, World: 4.0


Peak: US: 7, UK: 11, Canada: 11, Australia: 6

Awards:

--

Review:

At the close of the century, Madonna released a career retrospective, making for a large overlap with Immaculate Collection and GHV2. The double-disc Celebration omitted some songs and added another eleven songs not included on either of the previous compilations, including eight songs released after GHV2. While her hits dwindled in that era, she still managed three top ten hits in the U.S. (Die Another Day, Hung Up, 4 Minutes). The latter two, as well as Sorry, were #1 hits in the U.K.

Among the post-2000 songs were two new cuts. Celebration was included on all versions of the album and released as the first single. It “became Madonna's 40th number-one song on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs chart.” WK Revolver was released as a second single and is included on the double-disc deluxe edition. WK The iTunes Store deluxe digital versions also included It’s So Cool as a bonus track. WK

Celebration was appreciated by contemporary critics, who noted the vastness of Madonna's back-catalogue. The album debuted at the top of the charts in Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Madonna became tied with Elvis Presley as the solo artist with the most number-one albums in the United Kingdom.” WK

Album Tracks – All Collections

Click here for the chart codes for singles/hit songs.

Check out the DMDB Beatles’ singles page for a complete singles discography.


1982-1989:

  1. Everybody (10/6/82) C
  2. Burning Up (3/9/83) C
  3. Holiday (9/7/83, #16 US, #2 UK, #25 RB) IC, C
  4. Lucky Star (9/8/83, #3a US, #14 UK, #19 AC, #42 RB) IC, C
  5. Borderline (2/15/84, #10 US, #2 UK, #23 AC, sales: 0.5 m) IC, C
  6. Like a Virgin (11/6/84, #1 US, #3 UK, #29 AC, #9 RB, sales: 0.5 m) IC, C
  7. Material Girl (1/30/85, #2 US, #3 UK, #38 AC, #49 RB) IC, C
  8. Crazy for You (3/1/85, #1 US, #2 UK, #2 AC, #80 RB, sales: 0.5 m) IC, C
  9. Into the Groove (4/27/85, #1 UK, #19 RB. B-side of “Angel,” sales: 0.5 m) IC, C
  10. Dress You Up (7/24/85, #5 US, #5 UK, #32 AC, #64 RB) C
  11. Live to Tell (4/12/86, #1 US, #2 UK, #1 AC) IC, C
  12. Papa Don’t Preach (6/26/86, #1 US, #1 UK, #16 AC, sales: 0.5 m) IC, C
  13. Open Your Heart (12/6/86, #1 US, #4 UK, #12 AC) IC, C
  14. La Isla Bonita (3/21/87, #4 US, #1 UK, #1 AC) IC, C
  15. Who’s That Girl (6/30/87, #1 US, #1 UK, #5 AC, #78 RB) C
  16. Like a Prayer (3/18/89, #1 US, #1 UK, #20 RB, #3 AC, sales: 1.0 m) IC, C
  17. Express Yourself (6/3/89, #2 US, #5 UK, #12 AC, sales: 0.5 m) IC, C
  18. Cherish (8/19/89, #2 US, #3 UK, #1 AC) IC, C

1990-1999:

  1. Vogue (4/14/90, #1 US, #1 UK, #23 AC, #16 RB, sales: 2.0 m) IC, C
  2. Justify My Love (11/17/90, #1 US, #2 UK, #42 RB, sales: 1.0 m) IC, C
  3. Rescue Me (3/2/91, #5a US, #3 UK, sales: 0.5 m) IC
  4. Erotica (10/17/92, #2a US, #3 UK, sales: 0.5 m) G2, C
  5. Deeper and Deeper (12/5/92, #7 US, #6 UK) G2
  6. Secret (10/8/94, #3 US, #5 UK, #2 AC, sales: 0.5 m) G2, C
  7. Take a Bow (12/17/94, #1 US, #16 UK, #1 AC, #40 RB, sales: 0.5 m) G2, C
  8. Bedtime Story (2/25/95, #42 US, #4 UK) G2, C
  9. Human Nature (6/24/95, #46 US, #8 UK, #57 RB) G2, C
  10. Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (12/28/96, #8 US, #3 UK, #21 AC) G2, C
  11. Frozen (2/28/98, #2 US, #1 UK, #8 AC, sales: 0.5 m) G2, C
  12. Ray of Light (5/16/98, #5 US, #2 UK, sales: 0.5 m) G2, C
  13. Drowned World / Substitute for Love (9/5/98, #10 UK) G2
  14. The Power of Goodbye (10/17/98, #11 US, #6 UK, #14 AC) G2
  15. Beautiful Stranger (6/12/99, #11a US, #2 UK, #23 AC) G2, C

2000-2009:

  1. Music (8/12/00, #1 US, #1 UK, sales: 1.0 m) G2, C
  2. Don’t Tell Me (12/9/00, #4 US, #4 UK, sales: 0.5 m) G2, C
  3. What It Feels Like for a Girl (4/10/01, #23 US, #7 UK, #27 AC) G2
  4. Die Another Day (10/22/02, #8 US, #3 UK) C
  5. Hollywood (6/14/03, #2 UK) C
  6. Hung Up (10/17/05, #7 US, #1 UK, #29 AC, sales: 3.35 m) C
  7. Sorry (3/11/06, #58 US, #1 UK) C
  8. 4 Minutes (with Justin Timberlake, 3/17/08, #3 US, #1 UK, sales: 4.0 m) C
  9. Miles Away (10/17/08, #39 UK, sales: 0.8 m) C
  10. Celebration (8/22/09, #71 US, #3 UK) C
  11. Revolver (12/14/09) C

IC The Immaculate Collection
G2 GHV2
C Celebration


Review Source(s):

  • BL Blender Magazine’s “100 Greatest American Albums” (10/08) (Immaculate Collection)
  • E-I Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide (Immaculate Collection)
  • E-G Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide (GHV2)
  • WK Wikipedia (Celebration)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Forty Years Ago Today: Elvis Presley charts with “Suspicious Minds” (9/13/1969)

image from ultratop.be


Elvis Presley “Suspicious Minds”


Writer(s): Mark James (see lyrics here)

First charted: 9/13/1969

Peak: 11, 4 AC, 2 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 7.0 world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): 5.0 Video Airplay (in millions): 158.8


Review: The BBC called this song “the last great moment in the career of Elvis Presley” BBC while a 2002 readers poll in New Musical Express made the even bolder proclamation that it was the best song of Elvis’ career. TB-116 In 1969, the crown of the King of Rock and Roll had greatly tarnished thanks to a decade’s worth of poor choices both in song and film. CR-52 “Suspicious Minds” was more than just a symbolic return to the top – it also marked his first #1 on the U.S. pop charts in seven years.

This song emerged in the first recording sessions after Elvis’ NBC television special on December 3, 1968, which was largely seen as his comeback. BR1-260 The sessions brought him back to his Memphis roots JA-185 where he hadn’t recorded since his Sun sessions in July 1955. BR1-260

His renewed zest is evident in his vibrant singing backed by a “Stax-like chorus alternating with the slow-burning verses” BBC which find Elvis begging a lover not to derail their relationship with distrust. The song also sports the famous fake-out ending in which the song has nearly faded out, only to see Elvis jump back in to spit out the chorus repeatedly. BBC

Memphis singer Mark James wrote the song and recorded a version, but it went nowhere. Chips Moman, a soul producer in Memphis, SF produced the original AMG and brought it to Elvis in 1969. SF As had typically been the case in the past, Elvis’ manager Colonel Parker demanded that the song’s copyright owner hand over part of the publishing royalties. BBC However, Elvis weighed in with better judgment when his love of the song trumped The Colonel’s love of money. BBC


Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Award(s):


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Confessions of a Non-Audiophile

In light of the much-celebrated remastered versions of the Beatles discography out today, I must make a confession that could ruin any chance I have at respectability in the music community. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is time to come clean.

I am not an audiophile.

Whew! That feels good to get that out, even if it means ridicule and scorn are destined to come my way. I know, I know. Any serious critic of music should be able to tout big statements like “the violins on ‘Eleanor Rigby’ are crisper on the remastered Revolver than ever before” or “the sound is so natural that you’ll feel like you were in Abbey Road Studios while the Beatles were recording.” I’m lucky if I can correctly pick “A” or “B” in a multiple choice test of “Identify the Newer Version.”

My affliction with sub-par sound goes back to my first experiences with music. In my elementary school days, I listened to music I’d recorded off the radio via a hand-held tape recorder shoved in front of a stereo speaker. For years, I didn’t know what the ending of Billy Joel’s “My Life” sounded like because I’d cut the song off early to cancel out the DJ chatter.

Of course, the transgressions of youth might be overlooked if I redeemed my mediocre ways in later years. Alas, when I tramped off to college, it was with crates full of cassettes and merely a ghetto blaster on which to play them.

When I’d overcome “poor college student” status, my music expenditures were predominantly on the music itself and rarely on the means by which to play it. So even while my CD collection grew to a four-digit number, my stereo never went beyond a three-digit price tag.

At one point, I ironically subscribed to Stereo Review, but only for the album reviews and even then I dismissed their recording quality ratings as irrelevant.

Even now, I am perfectly happy listening to my MP3’s on my computer while the stereo sits idle in anticipation of the occasional swish of the dust rag.

Perhaps the blame lies in my failure to learn an instrument. I was one of those grade schoolers for whom even the recorder was beyond my capabilities. I never grasped that when playing the violin, you were NOT supposed to saw away on all the strings at once.

Maybe it’s a hereditary thing. My mom likes show tunes but my dad proclaims marches to be his favorite kind of music. There really isn’t, to my knowledge, an audiophile contingent devoted to marches.

It could be my complete lack of rhythm. There’s no quicker way to make me feel like the dumbest person in the room than formal dance. Left foot here, right foot there…I need a GPS to navigate even the simplest of dance steps.

For those whose lingo is peppered with words like “woofer” and “tweeter,” it must be incomprehensible that I could enjoy listening to music so much, but at such low quality. Enroll me in AAA (Anti-Audiophiles Anonymous) or some other twelve-step program. I admit it - I have a problem and need help! Listen to my pleas carefully, though; they won't come through as loud and clear as your refined ears are used to.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Train charts with "Hey, Soul Sister": September 5, 2009

Originally posted September 5, 2011.



The group Train hadn’t had a hit in the U.S. in five years when they released “Hey, Soul Sister” as the debut single for their fifth album. In the UK, they hadn’t charted since 2001. The song became Columbia Records’ most downloaded song and is the eight most downloaded song in history. WK This lands the song on the DMDB’s list of the top 100 best-selling songs in the world.

The song also topped the charts in sixteen countries. WK Surprisingly, even with its massive sales in the U.S., it only peaked at #3. However, it stayed atop the adult contemporary charts for 22 weeks, making it one of the top 100 adult contemporary songs of all time according to Dave’s Music Database. The DMDB also rates it as one the top 100 songs of the 21st century.

The lyrics are about “a woman who’s got all the right moves.” SF Train’s lead singer and songwriter, Pat Monahan, was inspired by Burning Man, an annual event in the Nevada desert in which a wooden man is burned at the end of the festival and everyone dances around it naked. He had never been, but imagined beautiful women dancing around the fire. WK

He collaborated on the track with Espionage, a Norwegian production duo comprised of Espen Lind and Amund Bjørklund. Previous writing credits included Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” and Chris Brown’s “With You”. SF Monahan told the pair he wanted an INXS-style song, but after getting down the melody and singing it, decided it didn’t sound right. Espen tried it out with ukulele and Monahan, while initially reluctant, decided the approach “made my words dance.” WK He has also said that the use of the ukulele “made everybody happy…people gravitate towards that positive part of it.” SF




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