Saturday, September 29, 2001

Jay-Z 'sThe Blueprint hit #1

The Blueprint

Jay-Z


Released: September 18, 2001


Charted: September 29, 2001


Peak: 13 US, 13 RB, 30 UK, 3 CN


Sales (in millions): 2.3 US, 0.21 UK, 3.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rap


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. The Ruler’s Back
  2. Takeover
  3. Izzo (H.O.V.A.) (7/21/01, 7a US, 2a RB, 21 UK)
  4. Girls, Girls, Girls (9/29/01, 15a US, 11 UK, 4 RB)
  5. Jigga That Nigga (11/3/01, 64a US, 26a RB)
  6. U Don’t Know
  7. Hola’ Hovito
  8. Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)
  9. Never Change
  10. Song Cry (4/27/02, 45 RB)
  11. All I Need
  12. Renegade (with Eminem)
  13. Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)


Total Running Time: 63:25

Rating:

4.148 out of 5.00 (average of 15 ratings)


Quotable: Nobody in New York could match Jay-Z rhyme for rhyme and nobody in New York had fresher beats.” – Jason Birchmeier, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

After the death of the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z “claimed New York’s hip-hop throne” AMG At the time, “many smirked and some even snickered.” AMG However, he “solidified his position with gigantic hits like ‘Big Pimpin’ and ‘I Just Wanna Love You (Give It 2 Me).’” AMG On The Blueprint, “everything came together to assert Hova as the best rapper around” FO and “no one was smirking and no one dared snicker.” AMG “Everything that makes Jay-Z a true king can be heard on this LP. From the soulful seventies beats, the introduction of Kanye as his producer, to the way he tells stories with consummate ease.” FO

“Nobody in New York could match Jay-Z rhyme for rhyme and nobody in New York had fresher beats – and many would argue that Jigga’s reign was not just confined to New York but was, in fact, national.” AMG “Jay-Z took on anyone and everyone who wanted to sit on his throne.” RS’20 For example, on Takeover, “one of the greatest diss tracks of all time,” FO “he brutally dismisses two of his most formidable opponents, Mobb Deep and Nas.” AMG “There’s little doubt that Jay-Z’s status as the top MC in the game is justified.” AMG

“Leadoff single, Izzo (H.O.V.A.), dominated urban radio numerous weeks before the album hit the streets, generating so much demand that Def Jam had to push up the album’s street date because it was being so heavily bootlegged.” AMG “With dynamic production by Kanye West,” RS’20 and “a joyous sample of the Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’” NRR it “gave him his first Top 10 single. Jay-Z elevates clever rhymes and innovations with an unmatched air of calm control and a cavalier confidence” RS’20 in a song complete “with a rumination on changing perceptions of black wealth.” NRR

“Jay-Z continues the braggadocio with U Don’t Know.” Perhaps the most bombastic song on the album – if not Jay-Z’s career (‘I will not lose, ever’) – it doubles as a financial history of his life…He opens up about the wealth gathered as a drug dealer (‘So much coke that you could run a slalom’) before explaining a musical revelation (‘Could make forty [thousand dollars] off a brick, but one rhyme could beat that’) and offering an accounting of his millions – ‘Put me anywhere on God’s green Earth,’ he explains, ‘I triple my worth..’” NRR

All the songs are “stunning, to the point where the album seems almost flawless.” AMG “The album packs a powerful range of topics and emotions into its 60-plus minutes.” NRR “When Hova isn’t taking shots at record executives, cops, critics, haters, biters, and his absent dad (and still, sadly, using the word “faggot”), he inches toward vulnerability on Song Cry.” RS’20 The song “reveals a version of the rapper willing to show emotion and admit mistakes,” NRR such as when “he reminisces over a lost love, his voice crackling with partially-supressed grief as he acknowledges the toll his infidelity took on the relationship.” NRR Far Out referred to that song and Never Change as “moments that will live in his legacy for a long time to come.” FO

“Besides rhymes that challenge those on Reasonable Doubt as the most crafted of Jay-Z’s career to date in terms of not only lyrics but also flow and delivery, The Blueprint also boasts some of his most extravagant beats, courtesy of impressive newcomers Kayne West and Just Blaze.” AMG

“If the rhymes and beats alone don’t make The Blueprint a career highlight for Jay-Z, the minimal guest appearances surely do.” AMG With the exception of a duet with Eminem, “listeners get exactly what they want: Jay-Z and nothing but Jay-Z, over beats so loaded with marvelously flipped samples the songs don't even need big vocal hooks.” AMG

“Jay-Z spent the first half-decade of his career in a delicate balancing act: trying to stay true to the hard-edged sound and subject matter that drew fans to his debut, while capturing new crowds with the glitzy production and pop hooks that characterized his second. Perhaps more than any album in his career--and certainly more than any to that point – Blueprint accomplished that feat.” NRR “Uneven albums like Hard Knock Life were the crossover attempts.” AMG This is “a fully realized masterpiece” AMG and “easily Jay-Z’s greatest album of all time.” FO

The album has the noted accomplishment of being the first of the 21st century to be selected by the National Recording Registry. It represents a peak in the career of “a son of Brooklyn’s notorious housing projects who became hip-hop’s first billionaire in 2019” NRR and would be crowned as the solo artist with the most number one albums for a solo artist. NRR

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First posted 3/30/2008; last updated 4/28/2022.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Tori Amos released covers album Strange Little Girls

Strange Little Girls

Tori Amos


Released: September 18, 2001


Peak: 4 US, 16 UK, 8 CN, 7 AU


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


Genre: adult alternative singer/songwriter


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. New Age (Lou Reed) [4:37]
  2. ’97 Bonnie & Clyde (Marshall Mathers, Jeff Bass, Mark Bass) [5:46]
  3. Strange Little Girl (Brian Duffy, Dave Greenfield, Hans Warmling, Hugh Cornwell, Jean-Jacques Burnel) [3:50] (11/13/01, --)
  4. Enjoy the Silence (Martin Gore) [4:10]
  5. I’m Not in Love (Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman) [5:39]
  6. Rattlesnakes (Lloyd Cole, Neil Clark) [3:59]
  7. Time (Tom Waits) [5:23]
  8. Heart of Gold (Neil Young) [4:00]
  9. I Don’t Like Mondays (Bob Geldof) [4:21]
  10. Happiness Is a Warm Gun (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) [9:55]
  11. Raining Blood (Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King) [6:22]
  12. Real Men (Joe Jackson) [4:07]


Total Running Time: 62:09

Rating:

3.408 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Something that goes unspoken in the cult of Tori Amos is that she knows the value of press and that she knows how to exploit it. So, six albums into her career, and several years since she captured headlines, she released Strange Little Girls, a collection of covers intended to strike a dagger into the heart of how males view females in pop songs. To be honest, you wouldn’t know that from listening to the record, but you might have an idea by looking at the four separate collector-oriented covers, and reading the reviews, previews, and interviews Tori did prior to and at the time of release.” AMG

“The only track that really feels that way is Eminem’s 97 Bonnie and Clyde, where Amos heightens the tension by close-mic’ing her vocals and reading with a hammy theatricalness that results in a cut about as chilling as the original, but without the context.” AMG

“After that, there really aren’t many songs that sound like they’re a female switch in perspective, apart from maybe the Stranglers’ title track (which she does a nice job with), and it’s very hard to tell what she’s trying to say with these songs. Is she the fat blonde actress in the Velvet Underground’s New Age? Mother Superior in the Beatles’ Happiness is a Warm Gun (recorded with an anti-gun recitation from her father)? Is she the chair in Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence? How does Tom Waits’ Time fit into the equation?” AMG

“Tori never tells us, either lyrically or through her musical arrangements – witness the bizarre deconstruction of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold, another song that doesn’t seem to fit her theme, so she dresses it up in flanged guitar and neo-trip-hop beats.” AMG

“Tori’s sexual politics are so poorly constructed, appearing almost nonexistent, that the music by default rises to the forefront and it almost meets the demands. For the most part, this is a solid record – overly produced and not as inventive as her takes on ‘Angie’ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit,’ but rarely as wretched as ‘Heart of Gold.’ Though there’s a bit too much surface sheen, it’s a solid record, yet it’s not particularly distinctive, so the pre-release hype about the gender deconstructions of Strange Little Girls makes sense, because the only way this distinguishes itself is through its stated intention – and if the album doesn’t make the intentions specific, it’s best to get the word out any way possible. And while all that press may have given the impression that this is something new, something different – precisely what it was meant to do – it really is nothing more than another, pretty good Tori Amos record, only not quite as interesting because she didn’t write the tunes.” AMG

Personally, the DMDB saw an intriguing story line that played out, based on the track order. First, the album introduces an eccentric girl through tracks like Strange Little Girl. Then, we see her struggling with an unrequited relationship (I’m Not in Love, ‘Heart of Gold’). Finally, she is pushed over the edge and goes on a murderous rampage (I Don’t Like Mondays, ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun,’ Raining Blood).

In the end, the listener is left with Tori’s take on Joe Jackson’s already phenomenal commentary on our stereotypes of men (Real Men), only now it takes on a very different meaning. The listener wonders if the album’s character is struggling with male/female identities, potentially even gender identity crisis, that has led to her behavior. It may not have been Tori’s intent, but it is how the DMDB interpreted it.

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 6/3/2022.

Wilco released Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Wilco


Released: September 18, 2001


Charted: May 4, 2002


Peak: 13 US, 40 UK, 43 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.67 US


Genre: alternative country rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
  2. Kamera
  3. Radio Cure
  4. War on War (5/21/02, --)
  5. Jesus, Etc.
  6. Ashes of American Flags
  7. Heavy Metal Drummer
  8. I’m the Man Who Loves You
  9. Pot Kettle Black
  10. Poor Places
  11. Reservations


Total Running Time: 51:51


The Players:

  • Jeff Tweedy (vocals, guitar)
  • John Stirratt (bass)
  • Leroy Bach (keyboards, guitar, bass, saxophone)
  • Glenn Kotche (drums)
  • Jay Bennett (mixing, multiple instruments)

Rating:

4.047 out of 5.00 (average of 28 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Few bands can call themselves contemporaries of both the heartbreakingly earnest self-destruction of Whiskeytown and the alienating experimentation of Radiohead’s post-millennial releases, but on the painstaking Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco seem to have done just that. In early 2001, the Chicago-area band focused on recording their fourth album, which ultimately led to the departure of guitarist Jay Bennett and tensions with their record label.” AMG Wilco wouldn’t change the album and Reprise Records dropped them. Welco bought the studio tapes for $50,000, left the label, AMG and posted the album for free on the internet. RS’20 “Two-hundred-thousand downloads later, Nonesuch Records (owned by the same company as Reprise) released the album, and it became critical and commercial gold.” RS’20

“The turmoil surrounding the recording and distribution of the album in no way diminishes the sheer quality of the genre-spanning pop songs written by frontman Jeff Tweedy and his bandmates. After throwing off the limiting shackles of the alt-country tag that they had been saddled with through their 1996 double album Being There, Wilco experimented heavily with the elaborate constructs surrounding their simple melodies on Summerteeth. The long-anticipated Yankee Hotel Foxtrot continues their genre-jumping and worthwhile experimentation.” AMG “Its pretty acoustic-guitar melodies battled noise, skidded into dissonance, or got chopped off abruptly. Its lyrics pitted hope against doubt, with all bets off.” RS’20

“The sprawling, nonsensical I Am Trying to Break Your Heart is as charmingly bleak as anything Tweedy has written to date, while the positively joyous Heavy Metal Drummer jangles through bright choruses and summery reminiscences. Similarly, Kamera dispels the opening track’s gray with a warm acoustic guitar and mixer/multi-instrumentalist/ ‘fifth Beatle’ Jim O’Rourke’s unusual production.” AMG

“The true high points of the album are when the songwriting is at its most introspective, as it is during the heartwrenching Ashes of American Flags, which takes on an eerie poignancy in the wake of the attacks at the World Trade Center. ‘All my lies are always wishes,’ Tweedy sings, ‘I know I would die if I could come back new.’” AMG

“As is the case with many great artists, the evolution of the band can push the music into places that many listeners (and record companies for that matter) may not be comfortable with, but, in the case of Wilco, their growth has steadily led them into more progressive territory. While their songs still maintain the loose intimacy that was apparent on their debut A.M., the music has matured to reveal a complexity that is rare in pop music, yet showcased perfectly on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.” AMG

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First posted 3/29/2008; last updated 4/23/2022.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Bob Dylan released Love and Theft

Love and Theft

Bob Dylan


Released: September 11, 2001


Charted: September 29, 2001


Peak: 5 US, 3 UK, 3 CN, 6 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.1 UK, 1.1 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: folk rock


Tracks:

  1. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
  2. Mississippi
  3. Summer Days
  4. Bye and Bye
  5. Lonesome Day Blues
  6. Floater (Too Much to Ask)
  7. High Water (For Charley Patton)
  8. Moonlight
  9. Honest with Me
  10. Po’ Boy
  11. Cry a While
  12. Sugar Baby


Total Running Time: 57:25

Rating:

3.882 out of 5.00 (average of 29 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“The blood and glory of 1997’s Time Out of MindRS’20 “was a legitimate comeback, Bob Dylan's first collection of original songs in nearly ten years and a risky rumination on mortality.” AMG It “was the first Dylan album in years that had to live up to fans’ expectations. He didn’t just exceed them – he blew them up. Dylan sang in the voice of a grizzled drifter who’d visited every nook and cranny of America and gotten chased out of them all.” RS’20

“Its sequel, Love and Theft, is his true return to form, not just his best album since Blood on the Tracks, but the loosest, funniest, warmest record he’s made since The Basement Tapes.” AMG It “was full of corny vaudeville jokes and apocalyptic floods, from the guitar rave” RS’20 of “the fabulously swinging Summer DaysAMG “to the country lilt of Po’ Boy.” RS’20 “There are none of the foreboding, apocalyptic warnings that permeated Time Out of Mind and even underpinned ‘Things Have Changed,’ his Oscar-winning theme to Curtis Hanson's 2000 film Wonder Boys.” AMG

“Just as important, Daniel Lanois’ deliberately arty, diffuse production has retreated into the mist, replaced by an uncluttered, resonant production that gives Dylan and his ace backing band room to breathe. And they run wild with that liberty, rocking the house with the grinding Lonesome Day Blues…They’re equally captivating on the slower songs, whether it's the breezily romantic Bye and Bye, the torch song Moonlight, or the epic reflective closer, Sugar Baby.” AMG

“Musically, Dylan hasn’t been this natural or vital since he was with the Band, and even then, those records were never as relaxed and easy or even as hard-rocking as these. That alone would make Love and Theft a remarkable achievement, but they're supported by a tremendous set of songs that fully synthesize all the strands in his music, from the folksinger of the early ‘60s, through the absurdist storyteller of the mid-‘60s, through the traditionalist of the early ‘70s, to the grizzled professional of the ‘90s.” AMG

“None of this is conscious, it’s all natural. There's an ease to his writing and a swagger to his performance unheard in years – he’s cracking jokes and murmuring wry asides, telling stories, crooning, and swinging. It’s reminiscent of his classic records, but he’s never made a record that’s been such sheer, giddy fun as this, and it stands proudly among his very best albums.” AMG

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First posted 3/30/2008; last updated 4/27/2022.

Monday, September 10, 2001

Yes Magnification released

Magnification

Yes


Released: September 11, 2001


Peak: 186 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: progressive rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time]

  1. Magnification [7:15]
  2. Spirit of Survival [6:01]
  3. Don’t Go [4:26]
  4. Give Love Each Day [7:43]
  5. Can You Imagine [2:58]
  6. We Agree [6:30]
  7. Soft As a Dove [2:17]
  8. Dreamtime [10:45]
  9. In the Presence Of [10:24]
    i. Deeper
    ii. Death of Ego
    iii. True Beginner
    iv. Turn Around and Remember
  10. Time Is Time [2:08]

All songs written by Anderson, Howe, Squire, and White.


Total Running Time: 60:27


The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals, guitar)
  • Steve Howe (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Chris Squire (bass, keyboards, backing vocals)
  • Alan White (drumers, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals)

Rating:

2.534 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

About the Album:

Magnification, the 19th studio album from Yes, featured the Anderson-Howe-Squire-White lineup for the third consecutive album. That foursome had also worked together for Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), Relayer (1974), Going for the One (1977), and Drama (1978).

For the first time since their 1970 sophomore album Time and a Word, the band recorded with orchestral arrangements, which were done by Larry Groupé conducting the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. The move was prompted after the band dismissed keyboardist Igor Khoroshev after sexual harassment charges during their previous tour. Now without a keyboardist, they decided to play some dates with an orchestra on stage. This led to the idea of recording a new studio album with an orchestra.

Lisa Knodel of the Dayton Daily News said GroupĂ©’s arrangements “create drama, painting a musical landscape for the mind and moving from moments of inner peace and chaos.” WK New York Post critic Dan Aquilante said the group’s recording with an orchestra resulted in “uplifting, optimistic music that’s lush without the mush.” WK Howard Cohen of The Knight Ridder Tribune said that the album lacked a “killer tune,” but was one of the band’s more listenable releases. WK

Can You Imagine was initially recorded in 1981 as a demo for the proposed supergroup XYZ, which was to feature Squire, White, and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. In the Presence Of was a piece White had written several years earlier. Knodel considered We Agree, Give Love Each Day, and the title cut to be the standout tracks on the album. WK


Notes: Different editions of the album have featured bonus live material, including “Close to the Edge,” “Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil),” “Long Distance Runaround,” “The Gates of Delirium,” “Deeper (In the Presence Of),” and “Magnification.”

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First posted 7/25/2021.