Thursday, July 25, 2013

my favorite albums... 90 thru 81

Welcome back to the show... here's the next set of my all time favorite albums...

The Introduction
My 100th to 91st favorite albums of all time

"Off the Deep End" by Weird Al Yankovic (1992)... I love, have always loved, and will always love, Weird Al Yankovic.  He's just hilarious.  And inventive.  And funny.  And his 7th studio album falls in that love category... he parodies the New Kids on the Block's "The Right Stuff" with an ode to the creamy center of an Oreo, "The White Stuff"... he digs on Milli Vanilli in "The Plumbing Song"... he joins with Cheech Marin in doing some "Rico Suave" as "Taco Grande"... and my favorite of the bunch is the lead single--"Smells Like Nirvana", a great parody of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit".  Story goes that Al reached out, somewhat nervously, to Kurt Cobain about doing a Nirvana song.  Cobain asked, "Is your parody about food?"  Al replied, "Well... uh... no.  Its actually about how no one can understand your lyrics..."  Cobain loved the idea, the song and the video that accompanied it.  As he should.  Its brilliant.

"Songs from Ally McBeal" by Vonda Shepard (1998)... This will fall into the category of "CDs I listened to continually for a long, long time, but haven't heard in a long, long time..."  I used to love me some Ally McBeal, as well as the music... and most of the music from the first few seasons was done by singer-songwriter Vonda Shepard... the CD is mostly covers like "Walk Away Renee" and "Just Ask the Lonely", but my favorite is the Ally McBeal theme song, "Searching My Soul". 

Wait... I just found out that Vonda Shepard is the same Vonda Shepard that duets with Dan Hill on the 80s cheesefest "Can't We Try"... how did I not know this?  I mean, how many Vonda Shepards making music can there be?  Why didn't I make this connection?  I'm losing my touch...

"Purple" by Stone Temple Pilots (1994)... I have to give props to my high school buddy Greg Avant for turning me on to this band... I'll tell that story later, but "Purple" is their second CD, and its just so, so good.  "Interstate Love Song" is the one that got the most play on the radio, but there are other gems here... like "Big Empty", a song that was later featured in "The Crow" soundtrack, and the oddly named, great sounding "Meat Plow".  I'm not a huge heavy metal fan, but I loved me some STP.  Of course, this was truly the last great album they made... their next CD, "Tiny Music from the Vatican Gift Shop" was good, but just not the same magic as their first one, and this one.  Favorite track: Vasoline

Unfortunately, Scott Weiland, the frontman for STP, was buzzed on heroin for much of the early STP years.  And he sounded awesome.  And when he got clean, STP suffered.  I know, its a terrible thing... but I miss Heroin Addicted Scott Weiland.  Maybe he just shoot up for recording sessions, remaining closely supervised by doctors, and then immediately go into rehab.  That's probably why I'm not a music producer.

"Surfacing" by Sarah McLachlan (1997)... I do love me some Sarah Mac.  I procured tickets to see her in concert once, while working at a radio station.  We sat next to the Paepckes' (Jon from NBC13 and his wife Jennifer)... and the four of us might have been the only four straight people in the entire arena.

Anyway, "Surfacing" is the fourth studio album from Sarah, and containing some excellent songs like "Building a Mystery" and the grew-on-me-over-the-years "Adia".  Loses points, however, for the inclusion of "Angel", a really slow song already that has been forever marred because its the music used by the ASPCA, showing you pictures of one eyed puppies, three legged kittens and retarded horses to guilt you into sending them money.  That song is ruined.  Favorite track, though? "Sweet Surrender".  Looooove me some "Sweet Surrender".

"House of Love" by Amy Grant (1994)... The early 90s were really tough on Mrs. Grant.  She made a highly successful crossover to pop music with "Heart in Motion", released in 1991 and was on the short list of albums for this Top 100... things weren't going well, though.  She separated from singer/songwriter Gary Chapman, and while in that separation, she met country superstar Vince Gill, who appears on this album, in a duet for the title track.  Gary and Amy finalized their divorce in 1999, and in 2000, she married Vince, himself previously married to a chick from Sweethearts of the Rodeo. 

Personally, I think she fell in love with Vince in the mid to late 90s, still married to Gary... but I also think they knew years before the divorce that the marriage was doomed.   Listen to 1997's  "Behind the Eyes", the album that came after this--its pretty painful.  Her heart was broken.  How did this turn into an Amy Grant story?

"House of Love" is fun, light, and peppy, especially with "Lucky One", a somewhat winkwink nudgenudge to the art of Christian lovin'... I dig her version of "Oh How the Years Go By"... I like "Children of the World"... but my favorite has to be the title track, "House of Love"

"Caedmon's Call" by Caedmon's Call (1997)... Like many of you, I find new bands because someone says "These guys are awesome, you should check them out."  That's how I discovered The Weepies (Thanks Hannah Pruitt!) and The Lemonheads (Thanks Mike Dunn!  You stole my girlfriend, but at least I have the Lemonheads to listen to!)... and one summer in 1997, doing summer missions with the Baptist Association in Montgomery, Alabama, this dude named Jason said, "You need to listen to Caedmon's Call.  They are awesome."  And they were.  They are.  From the opening "Lead of Love" to the great closer, "Coming Home", and everything in between, its guitar worship Jesus praise, and its great.  "This World" is an amazing take on how this is not our home, "I Just Don't Want Coffee" could be a theme song for me, and "Close of Autumn" is one of my Life Songs, or songs that most affected my Christian Walk

"Serious Hits... Live" by Phil Collins (1990)... Phil is one of those guys who was pretty awesome in a band--Genesis--and had a pretty awesome solo career, at least early.  Then he kinda became a wuss.  (See "Adams, Bryan").  Anyway, on this live CD you get some pretty serious hits live, like "Do You Remember" and "Something Happened on the Way to Heaven", which are from the studio album before this "But Seriously...", but you also get some earlier stuff, including "Easy Lover" and "In the Air Tonight".  And there is an incredible version of "Separate Lives", and my favorite Phil Collins song "I Wish It Would Rain Down".  Did you also know that Phil is the father of Lily Collins, the big sis in "The Blindside"?  Yup. 

At some point, this exchange actually happens:
Paula:  Have you ever been in love?
Keanu: If I was... I didn't know it...
Glorious.  Brilliant.  Poignant.  Ridiculous.  All in one. I frickin love
the "Rush Rush" video...
"Spellbound" by Paula Abdul (1991)... And we get our first repeat artist of the countdown... I gotta be honest.  For a long time, I had "Forever Your Girl" ranked this high, and "Spellbound" was among the discarded nominations... but I took a long look at the track listing, and even pulled up iTunes and took a listen at "Vibeology" (oh so funky) and "The Promise of a New Day" (positive vibes along for the ride) and "Blowing Kisses in the Wind" (soft and melodic) and of course, "Rush Rush", which can only be truly appreciated if you watch the most ridiculous video in the history of mankind.  I mean, Keanu Reeves is portraying James Dean.  Read that sentence again. 

"A Maze of Grace" by Avalon (1997)... Yes, in the 90s, trios and quartets in Contemporary Christian Music were almost a dime a dozen.  Sometimes it was hard to tell your Sierra from your The Waiting from Silage from PFR to FFH to Big Tent Revival... they all kind of sounded alike, even with different sounds and styles... and somehow, Avalon kinda sounded like that too.  But, to me, they stood out with this CD... This, their 2nd album, was magical, as it contained great worship music like "Adonai" and "Dreams I Dream For You"... oh, and this monster hit you couldn't get away from, "Testify To Love".  Don't get me wrong, its a great song, but in 1997-98, that song was EVA.REE.WHERE... I mean, all over.  And yes, I know all the words.  My favorite tunes on this album though, are the awesome strong-in-faith song "World Away" and the love song to God, "Reason Enough"

"Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live from Central Park" by Sheryl Crow (1999)... I do love Sheryl Crow. Ever since her first album, "Tuesday Night Music Club", which as you might guess, you'll hear about later, I have enjoyed her music, her writing and her style... that's changed a bit in the last six or seven years, as I kinda feel like she's become a little flaky for my tastes, as you can read here in a post from years ago, but that doesn't change her work in the 90s.  This live CD features Eric Clapton, The Dixie Chicks, Chrissy Hynde from The Pretenders, Stevie Nicks and Sarah McLachlan, an incredible line-up, and... well, this CD is just fun.  My favorite track is the duet with Stevie Nicks, on a cover of "Gold Dust Woman"


My first three CD purchases... 1) The Monkees box set... 2) The Pulp Fiction Soundtrack... and ...

The Hit Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber (1995)... I don't know who sings these songs, and the liner notes are somewhere around here, I dunno... but I love "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" from Evita, a musical I don't really ever care to see... and I thought this version of "Memories" from CATS was incredible, even though I've seen CATS twice and it sucked both times... and of course, the title song from "The Phantom of the Opera" will rock your world... and "Jesus Christ Superstar"?  Holy crap that song is a jam.  And I got it all from this CD, on sale for $11.95, at On Cue in Troy, Alabama.

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