We’ve got 2 killer albums being reissued on 180-gram vinyl this week... dig in here:
Duran Duran, Rio: Do we really need to sell you on this album beyond listing off its trifecta of hit singles? Seriously, if the knowledge that you’re getting “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Save a Prayer,” and the title track aren’t enough to make you want to pick up this vinyl reissue, we can’t help you.
25 years ago today, Simply Red topped the UK charts with an album that didn’t do quite as well in the States but still managed to provide the band with the second U.S. #1 single of their career.
After the success of the band’s 1985 debut album, Picture Book, and its biggest hit single, “Holding Back the Years” (their first U.S. #1 single), on both sides of the Atlantic, it seemed as though Simply Red were poised to be a full-fledged pop phenomenon…and so they were in just about every country other than America. In the States, however, the band’s sophomore effort, 1987’s Women and Men, earned disappointing sales, and although they earned a top-30 single with “The Right Thing,” it was evident that America wasn’t nearly as interested in what Mick Hucknall and company were selling as other countries. (In the UK, for instance, the band pulled five Top 100 singles from the album, with two of them – “The Right Thing” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” – hitting #11.)
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.