Through the marvel that is social media, I noticed that a bunch of Athens, GA musicians are putting together a tribute show next month centered around Whiskeytown's second LP, 1997's "Strangers Almanac". This, naturally, led to my pulling out the record and later putting together this week's playlist - twenty tracks spanning Whiskeytown's three (official) full-length releases, including bits from both the "Faithless Street" and "Strangers" reissues. And while all three records have aged exceptionally well, I have to wonder what a post-"Pneumonia" Whiskeytown record would have sounded like had the band stayed together.
Ryan Adams went on to immediately release his solo debut, the lauded "Heartbreaker", and would later revisit the more Whiskeytown-leaning aesthetic of his songwriting via "Jacksonville City Lights". And hey, everyone seems to be getting on the Reunion bus these days, so who knows...
When it comes to our Mono Monday releases, we try to offer you some great stuff, even if we sometimes lean into slightly more obscure selections, but this week’s release has been deemed a stone-cold classic by more sources that we have the space to mention.
Oh, all right, here are just a few of the folks who’ve cited Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis album as one of the best albums ever: Rolling Stone, who gave it a rave review back in ’69 and have since gone on to include it on their lists of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (#89), the 50 Coolest Records (#9), and Women in Rock: The 50 Essential Albums (#3); Entertainment Weekly, who – when it was reissued in 1999 – gave it an “A” and suggested that it “just might be one of the all-time great pop albums”; Mojo, who put it on their 100 greatest albums of all time (#92); New Musical Express, who put it on their Greatest Albums of all time, too (#54); VH-1, who put it at #58 on their 100 Greatest Albums of Rock & Roll; and illustrious rock critic Robert Christgau, who included it in what he called a Basic Record Library of the ‘60s. Oh, and it’s also in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, but after all of those plaudits, that’s probably not a huge surprise.
34 years ago today, Chicago released an album which was, uh, not exactly what you’d call one of their most significant commercial triumphs. That’s not to say that it’s a bad album, because heaven knows you can’t necessary base an album’s quality on how many copies it sells, but let’s just say that, when it comes to those who hold it up as a highlight of the band’s discography, it ain’t exactly Chicago XVII.
For Chicago, the ‘70s were equal parts wonderful and wearying: the band started out the decade by turning in albums which nailed the trifecta of being creatively, commercially, and critically successful, only to go through shifts in their sound and lineup – most notably the loss of guitarist Terry Kath, who died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1978 – which resulted in some moves which, in retrospect, turned out to be significant missteps. The culmination of these ill-conceived efforts came with 1979’s Chicago XIII, an album that may or may not have had something to do with the death of disco, but either way, it’s likely no coincidence that it proved to be Chicago’s lowest-charting album up to that point, only hitting #21 on the Billboard Top 200.
34 years ago today, Joy Division released their second studio album, an effort which – exactly two months earlier – had already secured its position as their final album, due to frontman Ian Curtis’s suicide.
Produced by Martin Hannett, Closer is an album which is effectively impossible to spin without considering the circumstances under which it was ultimately released, i.e. posthumously, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a classic in its own right. Indeed, it’s come to be seen as such by more than a few reputable publications over the course of time: New Musical Express cited it in the list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever (at #72), Q named it #8 in their list of the 40 best albums of the 1980s, while Slant Magazine put it at #7 on theirs, and although Pitchfork only put it at #10 on their list, they concluded that it was “Joy Division's start-to-finish masterpiece; a flawless encapsulation of everything the group sought to achieve.” As such, it should come as no surprise that Closer has earned a spot in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Today marks 48 years since the death of Bobby Fuller, the man who fronted the appropriately-named Bobby Fuller Four and scored hits with the songs “I Fought the Law,” “Let Her Dance,” and “Love’s Made a Fool of You.” Fuller’s musical legacy is significant considering the limited amount of material he released in his lifetime, but how he died has resulted in almost as much discussion over the years.
Born on October 22, 1942 in Baytown, Texas, Fuller spent his childhood up through his early teen years in Salt Lake City, Utah, but it was after moving back to Texas – this time to El Paso – that he began to fall in love with rock ‘n’ roll, thanks in no small part to Elvis Presley’s rise to prominence right around the same time. (It also didn’t hurt that one of Fuller’s fellow Texans, a bespectacled young man named Buddy Holly, was doing some pretty strong work then, too.) After performing countless concerts and doing quite a few recordings for indie labels with a variety of different musicians, Fuller settled on a definitive lineup for The Bobby Fuller Four and moved to Los Angeles in 1964, where he signed to Mustang Records.
ROCK ME TONITE
This is the clip that ended Billy Squier's career, that shot him from the beer drinker's hope to nobody's favorite seemingly overnight.
Dancing in a pink tank top? What was he thinking?
He wasn't. He listened to famous choreographer Kenny Ortega and was instantly finished. Oh, he got some airplay thereafter, but there was a stink upon his career that still hasn't worn off.
Meanwhile, this is a serviceable hit, but nothing like what came before, on "Don't Say No."
THE BIG BEAT
Yes, there was a first album, cut with Eddy Offord, of Yes fame, which got hardly any traction, despite this track ultimately being sampled by a who's who of rappers.