Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Who released Tommy: May 23, 1969

image from

Release date: 23 May 1969
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Overture / It’s a Boy / 1921 / Amazing Journey / Sparks / The Hawker / Christmas / Cousin Kevin / The Acid Queen / Underture / Do You Think It’s Alright? / Fiddle About / Pinball Wizard (3/7/69, #19 US, #4 UK) / There’s a Doctor / Go to the Mirror! / Tommy, Can You Hear Me? / Smash the Mirror / Sensation / Miracle Cure / Sally Simpson / I’m Free (7/5/69, #37 US) / Welcome / Tommy’s Holiday Camp / We’re Not Gonna Take It (“See Me Feel Me” excerpt, 9/26/70, #12 US)

Sales (in millions): 2.5 US, -- UK, 20.0 world

Peak: 4 US, 2 UK


Review: The Who’s fourth studio set bears the distinction of being “the first musical work to be billed overtly as a rock opera.” WK The double album, written almost entirely by guitarist Pete Townshend, “launched the band to international superstardom.” AMG The story focuses on a deaf, dumb, and blind kid who becomes a Messiah-like figure. This gave Townshend a chance to explore “the larger themes of emotional scars, freedom and religion.” RV When initially released, some critics hailed it as a masterpiece and “the beginnings of a new genre” WK Life magazine said “for sheer power, invention and brilliance of performance, Tommy outstrips anything that has ever come out of a rock recording studio.” WK

However, some considered it exploitative and the BBC and some U.S. radio stations even banned it. Detractors also cite the “pretensions of the concept and…the insubstantial nature of some of the songs that functioned as little more than devices to advance the rather sketchy plot.” AMG

One device used to get attention was pinball. The album’s main character is “a blind pinball wizard who was worshipped as the new messiah.” RVThe story goes that Townshend tailored the song Pinball Wizard to rock journalist Nic Cohn’s tastes to get a positive review from him. His reaction: “It’ll be a masterpiece.” RV

I’m Free (live)

“Though the album was slightly flawed, Townshend’s ability to construct a lengthy conceptual narrative brought new possibilities to rock music. Despite the complexity of the project, he and the Who never lost sight of solid pop melodies, harmonies, and forceful instrumentation, imbuing the material with a suitably powerful grace.” AMG One of the highlights comes when “frontman Roger Daltrey fully embodies the tortured essence of Tommy, displaying his newfound liberty in I’m Free.” RV

The album has some other “excellent songs, including…Sensation, Christmas, We're Not Gonna Take It, and the dramatic ten-minute instrumental Underture.” AMG “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was whittled down to “See Me Feel Me” for the singles-friendly radio market.

See Me Feel Me (from the ‘Tommy’ movie)

The group has frequently played the entire album live in concert, but not as a staged theatrical show. Several live performances have been released in their entirety, including the 2002 Deluxe Edition of the 1970 live album Live at Leeds and the Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 release in 1996. In 1975, the album was adapted into a film with major stars such as Ann-Margret, Elton John, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, and Jack Nicholson. Elton John’s performance of “Pinball Wizard” became a top 10 hit in the U.K. The band re-released a soundtrack version of the album.

Pinball Wizard (Elton John performing it in the ‘Tommy’ movie)

In 1993, Townshend and theatrical director Des McAnuff adapted the album for a Broadway musical. The show initially received mixed reviews, but won five Tony Awards that year, including Best Original Score.

Tommy (an entire live performance)

Resources and Related Links:


Friday, May 17, 2013

Bob Dylan goes electric: May 17, 1966

image from

“The most famous bootleg in rock history, with the possible exception of Dylan’s own Basement Tapes.” AMG This “is a great performance from one of the most important performers of our time.” NO The album didn’t receive an official release until 32 years later when it was released in 1998 as part of Dylan’s Bootleg Series. However, “Dylan's performance at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall on May 17, 1966 (and the bootlegs that followed) set the music world on its ear.” NO

The show is often misidentified as being at the Royal Albert Hall – hence the title in quotes on the official release. That show, on May 26, was one of the final shows from the same tour. “The one thing you can't argue is the significance of this tour; and more importantly, this particular show.” NO

The first half featured Dylan in a solo acoustic performance. “He was in fine form and turned in a gripping solo performance. The audience was ultra quiet during the seven songs. They had heard most of them several times before. It was familiar territory. They were comfortable.” NO

The second half, however, is electric set in which he is accompanied by The Hawks, who later became The Band. “The crowd had no idea that what they were about to experience would change the face of rock music as they knew it.” NO Dylan fans were dismayed by what they viewed as a betrayal of traditional folk music as evidenced by the legendary moment when a heckler yells “Judas!” Another man shouts, “I’m never listening to you again, ever!” to which Dylan responds, “I don’t believe you” and “You’re a liar.” Then either Dylan or guitarist Robbie Robertson can be heard instructing the band to “play it fucking loud.” WK “Drummer Mickey Jones slams his snare like his life depended on it, and they kick into the best version of Like a Rolling Stone you’ve ever heard.” NO Film footage of the incident was found and used in Martin Scorsese’s 2005 documentary No Direction Home.

The Famous Heckling Incident

Sometime in late 1970 or early 1971, the electric portion of the show started surfacing on bootleg LPs. Dave Marsh reviewed it in Creem magazine, calling it “the most supremely elegant piece of rock ‘n’ roll music I’ve ever heard.” WK All Music Guide’s Richie Unterberger called it “an important document of rock history. It captures…Dylan…at his most controversial and hard rocking.” AMG Critic Jon Landau notes “the booing, the names, the insults he endured just to be standing there with an electric band…The audience claps at the wrong time, claps rhythmically as if to deliberately throw his timing off.” WK

While the bootlegs focused on the electric set, the official package is a two-CD set which “not only includes the eight electric rock songs from the original bootleg, but also the seven solo acoustic performances that comprised the first half of the show.” AMG “The acoustic disc is not as epochal, but on par with the electric half in the quality of material and performance.” AMG “It’s all in very good fidelity, about as good as any copies you could find through unofficial sources.” AMG This isn’t “just an interesting adjunct to Dylan’s ‘60s discography; it’s as worthy of attention as anything else he recorded during that decade.” AMG “Even if you’re not a Dylan fan, this CD is an essential part of any collection.” NO


Resources and Related Links:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Alternative Rock: Top 100 Albums

First posted 5/10/2013; updated 9/4/2020.

Alternative Rock:

The Top 100 Albums

This list was created by aggregating 26 lists focused on alternative and indie rock. See links after the list.

Also, check out other best-of-genre lists here.

1. Radiohead OK Computer (1997)
2. Pavement Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
3. My Bloody Valentine Loveless (1991)
4. Sonic Youth Daydream Nation (1988)
5. Pixies Surfer Rosa (1988)
6. Nirvana Nevermind (1991)
7. The Pixies Doolittle (1989)
8. Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream (1993)
9. Beck Odelay (1996)
10. The Replacements Let It Be (1984)

11. Liz Phair Exile in Guyville (1993)
12. Oasis (What’s the Story) Morning Glory (1995)
13. R.E.M. Murmur (1983)
14. The Smiths The Queen Is Dead (1986)
15. The Stone Roses The Stone Roses (1989)
16. Dinosaur Jr. You’re Living All Over Me (1987)
17. Hüsker Dü New Day Rising (1985)
18. Guided by Voices Bee Thousand (1994)
19. Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral (1994)
20. Radiohead Kid A (2000)

21. Hüsker Dü Zen Arcade (1984)
22. Smashing Pumpkins Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995)
23. Soundgarden Superunknown (1994)
24. Blur Parklife (1994)
25. Joy Division Closer (1980)
26. Pearl Jam Ten (1991)
27. The Cure Disintegration (1989)
28. U2 The Joshua Tree (1987)
29. R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992)
30. Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)

31. Radiohead The Bends (1995)
32. The Smiths The Smiths (1984)
33. Green Day Dookie (1994)
34. The Strokes Is This It (2001)
35. Elvis Costello & The Attractions This Year’s Model (1978)
36. Jeff Buckley Grace (1994)
37. Pulp Different Class (1995)
38. Slint Spiderland (1991)
39. Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (1979)
40. The Verve Urban Hymns (1997)

41. Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
42. Meat Puppets Meat Puppets II (1984)
43. Pavement Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994)
44. Björk Debut (1993)
45. Nirvana In Utero (1993)
46. U2 Achtung Baby (1991)
47. The Fall This Nation’s Saving Grace (1985)
48. Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2001)
49. Talking Heads Remain in Light (1980)
50. Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

51. Arcade Fire Funeral (2004)
52. Belle & Sebastian If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996)
53. Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy (1985)
54. PJ Harvey To Bring You My Love (1995)
55. Primal Scream Screamadelica (1991)
56. Talking Heads More Songs about Buildings and Food (1978)
57. Violent Femmes Violent Femmes (1983)
58. Oasis Definitely Maybe (1994)
59. Portishead Dummy (1994)
60. New Order Power, Corruption and Lies (1983)

61. The White Stripes White Blood Cells (2001)
62. Sleater-Kinney Dig Me Out (1997)
63. Television Marquee Moon (1977)
64. The Clash London Calling (1979)
65. The Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
66. Radiohead In Rainbows (2007)
67. Yo La Tengo I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One (1997)
68. Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)
69. U2 War (1983)
70. Elliott Smith Either/Or (1997)

71. Elvis Costello & the Attractions Armed Forces (1979)
72. Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine (1992)
73. Gang of Four Entertainment! (1979)
74. Jane’s Addiction Nothing’s Shocking (1988)
75. Alice in Chains Dirt (1992)
76. Weezer Weezer (aka “The Blue Album”) (1994)
77. Wire Pink Flag (1977)
78. Blondie Parallel Lines (1978)
79. R.E.M. Document (1987)
80. Manic Street Preachers The Holy Bible (1994)

81. The Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
82. Tori Amos Little Earthquakes (1992)
83. Pretenders Pretenders (1980)
84. The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs (1999)
85. Devo Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (1978)
86. Elvis Costello My Aim Is True (1977)
87. Patti Smith Horses (1975)
88. New Order Substance (compilation: 1981-87, released 1987)
89. David Bowie Low (1977)
90. Nine Inch Nails Pretty Hate Machine (1989)

91. Alanis Morissette Jagged Little Pill (1995)
92. The Feelies Crazy Rhythms (1980)
93. Sonic Youth Sister (1987)
94. Jane’s Addiction Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)
95. Depeche Mode Violator (1990)
96. Interpol Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)
97. Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque (charted 1991)
98. The Cure Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)
99. Mission of Burma Vs. (1982)
100. Public Image Ltd. Metal Box (aka “Second Edition”) (1979)

Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 100 Songs

image from

Rolling Stone magazine has published numerous best-of lists over the years. Below is an exclusive Dave’s Music Database in which various lists from Rolling Stone have been consolidated into an aggregate list.

  1. Aretha Franklin…Respect (1967)
  2. Eagles…Hotel California (1977)
  3. The Police…Every Breath You Take (1983)
  4. Prince…Little Red Corvette (1983)
  5. Marvin Gaye…What’s Going On (1971)
  6. Bruce Springsteen…Born to Run (1975)
  7. Michael Jackson…Billie Jean (1983)
  8. Prince…When Doves Cry (1984)
  9. Nirvana…Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
  10. The Beatles…Hey Jude (1968)

  11. John Lennon…Imagine (1971)
  12. The Beach Boys…Good Vibrations (1966)
  13. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five…The Message (1982)
  14. The Miracles…The Tracks of My Tears (1965)
  15. The Jackson 5…I Want You Back (1969)
  16. Al Green…Let’s Stay Together (1971)
  17. Fleetwood Mac…Go Your Own Way (1977)
  18. Elton John…Your Song (1970)
  19. Marvin Gaye…I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1968)
  20. Sinead O’Connor…Nothing Compares 2 U (1990)

  21. Creedence Clearwater Revival…Proud Mary (1969)
  22. Bee Gees…Stayin’ Alive (1977)
  23. Joy Division…Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
  24. Rod Stewart…Maggie May (1971)
  25. Chic…Good Times (1979)
  26. The Rolling Stones…Brown Sugar (1971)
  27. The Rolling Stones…(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (1965)
  28. Bob Dylan…Like a Rolling Stone (1965)
  29. The Beatles…I Want to Hold Your Hand (1963)
  30. The Who…My Generation (1966)

  31. Otis Redding…(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay (1968)
  32. Bob Dylan…Tangled Up in Blue (1975)
  33. Stevie Wonder…Superstition (1972)
  34. The Doors…Light My Fire (1967)
  35. The Ronettes…Be My Baby (1963)
  36. Ike & Tina Turner…River Deep, Mountain High (1966)
  37. U2…With Or Without You (1987)
  38. Van Morrison…Brown-Eyed Girl (1967)
  39. The Rolling Stones…Honky Tonk Women (1969)
  40. Sex Pistols…Anarchy in the U.K. (1976)

  41. The Clash…London Calling (1980)
  42. Buffalo Springfield…For What It’s Worth (1967)
  43. R.E.M….Losing My Religion (1991)
  44. The Jimi Hendrix Experience…All Along the Watchtower (1968)
  45. The Beatles…Strawberry Fields Forever (1967)
  46. OutKast…Hey Ya! (2003)
  47. Elvis Presley…Suspicious Minds (1969)
  48. Wilson Pickett…In the Midnight Hour (1965)
  49. David Bowie…Changes (1972)
  50. The Who…Won’t Get Fooled Again (1971)

  51. The Rolling Stones…Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1968)
  52. Guns N’ Roses…Sweet Child O’ Mine (1988)
  53. Roy Orbison…Oh, Pretty Woman (1964)
  54. Tom Petty…Free Fallin’ (1989)
  55. Four Tops…Reach Out (I’ll Be There) (1966)
  56. Ramones…I Wanna Be Sedated (1978)
  57. The B-52’s…Love Shack (1989)
  58. Michael Jackson…Beat It (1983)
  59. Jefferson Airplane…Somebody to Love (1967)
  60. Aretha Franklin…Chain of Fools (1967)

  61. Run-D.M.C. with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler & Joe Perry…Walk This Way (1986)
  62. U2…Pride (In the Name of Love) (1984)
  63. The Rolling Stones…Miss You (1978)
  64. Blue Oyster Cult…Don’t Fear the Reaper (1976)
  65. Eric Clapton…Tears in Heaven (1992)
  66. Foreigner…I Want to Know What Love Is (1984)
  67. Al Green…Tired of Being Alone (1971)
  68. The Temptations…Just My Imagination Running Away with Me (1971)
  69. The Beatles…Yesterday (1965)
  70. The Rolling Stones…Sympathy for the Devil (1968)

  71. The Beatles…In My Life (1965)
  72. The Rolling Stones…Gimme Shelter (1968)
  73. U2…One (1992)
  74. The Righteous Brothers…You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (1964)
  75. The Beatles…A Day in the Life (1967)
  76. Van Halen…Jump (1984)
  77. Gnarls Barkley…Crazy (2006)
  78. The Beatles…Help! (1965)
  79. The Band…The Weight (1968)
  80. The Kingsmen…Louie Louie (1963)

  81. Percy Sledge…When a Man Loves a Woman (1966)
  82. The Impressions…People Get Ready (1965)
  83. Derek and the Dominos…Layla (1971)
  84. Simon & Garfunkel…Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
  85. Beyonce with Jay-Z…Crazy in Love (2003)
  86. The Kinks…You Really Got Me (1964)
  87. Chuck Berry…Johnny B. Goode (1958)
  88. Procol Harum…A Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
  89. Sam Cooke…A Change Is Gonna Come (1965)
  90. The Temptations…My Girl (1965)

  91. Creedence Clearwater Revival…Fortunate Son (1969)
  92. James Brown…Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (1965)
  93. Jay-Z…99 Problems (2003)
  94. The Mamas & the Papas…California Dreamin’ (1966)
  95. The Byrds…Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
  96. U2…Moment of Surrender (2009)
  97. Led Zeppelin…Whole Lotta Love (1969)
  98. The Kinks…Waterloo Sunset (1967)
  99. Elvis Presley…Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
  100. Eminem…Lose Yourself (2002)

Resources and Related Links: