Tag Archives: Lists

Scrape the mold off the bread: The best of Sheryl Crow

I’ll self-censor for the sake of a longer piece on the new Threads I’ll promote as soon as it goes live at the end of the week. For the moment, though, let this brief sixteen-song précis on her career suffice. I’m missing the albums between 2005-2012, but so are most of you. Please note, though, that 2017’s Be Myself, one of the least heralded good albums released by a vet in recent years, contributed a couple of tracks.

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My flawless albums

These albums boast not a single track I skip. I don’t say that I prefer them to others in their oeuvre, just that I play them end to end without cease. Dylan, the Beatles, other warhorses don’t apply. Likewise Neil Young, whose Tonight’s the Night (“Speakin’ Out”), Zuma (“Through the Sails), and Rust Never Sleeps (“Ride My Llama”) don’t qualify. Several beloved albums like Hearsay and Black on Both Sides don’t qualify. Continue reading

Ranking the #1 R&B songs of 1975

Disco made its first serious footprint on this chart in 1975. Classics like “Fly Robin Fly,” “The Hustle,” “Shame, Shame, Shame,” and a couple of Wayne Casey singles did well and crossed over pop, not to mention fellow traveler Barry White and Smokey Robinson in the here-goes-nuthin’ phase of his solo years. Ohio Players experimented with kiddie Funkadelic (Eddie Hazel co-wrote the Temptations’ “Shakey Ground”). The O’Jays confirmed the eternal verities, their biggest hit of the year conferring a name on my most frequented message board. My jam, though, is ” You’re the First, the Last, My Everything,” a master class in the arrangement of strings and to my ears the greatest thing White heaved, groaned, and croaked over Continue reading

I can cast a spell of secrets you can tell: the best of Chaka Khan

CVS is responsible for saving lives — a pharmacy open late, eggs and half and half available when supermarkets have closed, and the encouraging of “Through the Fire.” Maybe that’s how Kanye West learned to love it. This middling R&B, adult contemporary, and pop single has had an impressive longevity, such that even before Kanye’s 2003 “Through the Wire” it might’ve been the first Chaka Khan song recognized by Gen X and Triassic-era millennials. Guess what? Through the polite flame of those flickering synthesizers Chaka triumphs. Against 1985’s “That’s What Friends Are For,” I long thought I’d have preferred “Through the Fire” on my side. Continue reading

Sing no sad songs for me: my deathbed/wake songs

A couple of friends (whose names, to my embarrassment, I can’t remember) on Twitter posted deathbed songs — a piece of fortuitous timing, for I’m drawing up my will this year, and, assuming my pals and family outlive me, I want a celebration, not a ritual purging. These songs reflect a bit of my puckish spirit, I hope: a conception of myself that is up to the survivors to affirm or demolish after I’ve become ash. For example, I avoided Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” to a more Soto-esque pick like “I Am What I Am.” And I’ll leave instructions that the list must build to Jarvis Cocker’s grand fuck you.

1. Jarvis Cocker – C— Are Still Running the World
2. Lana Del Rey – Fucked My Way to the Top
3. Janet Jackson – Together Again
4. New Order – This Time of Night
5. Buzzcocks – I Believe
6. Fleetwood Mac – Sara
7. Roger Miller – One Dyin’ and a Buryin’
8. Jamie Principle – Waitin’ on My Angel
9. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Over and Over
10. Leonard Cohen – The Future
11. Prince – Private Joy
12. Lucinda Williams – Metal Firecracker
13. U2 – Stuck in a Moment
14. The Go-Betweens – Dive For Your Memory
15. Beyonce – I Miss You
16. Patty Loveless – Don’t Toss Us away
17. Ray Charles – That Lucky Old Sun
18. Rolling Stones – Moonlight Mile
19. Brad Paisley – When I Get Where I’m Going
20. R.E.M. – Sweetness Follows
21. Randy Travis – Three Wooden Crosses
22. Bryan Ferry – Don’t Stop the Dance
23. Lou Reed – The Blue Mask
24. Merle Haggard – I Am What I Am
25. Joni Mitchell – Night Ride Home
26. George Strait – You’ll Still Be There
27. Marvin Gaye – Praise
28. Billy Bragg and Wilco – Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
29. Sade – Never As Good as the First Time
30. The Mountain Goats – This Year
31. The Velvet Underground – Ocean
32. Trio – Wildflowers
33. Alexander O’Neal – Sunshine
34. Nas – It Ain’t Hard to Tell
35. Tori Amos – Jackie’s Strength
36. Amen Dunes – Dracula
37. Paramore – Ain’t It Fun
38. David Bowie – Heathen (The Rays)
39. Pet Shop Boys – The End of the World
40. Patrick Cowley – Do You Wanna Funk?
41. The B’52’s – Roam
42. The Go-Go’s – Beneath the Blue Sky
43. Tamia – Leave It Smokin’
44. Drake – From Time
45. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Sweet Thing
46. Brian Eno – Spider and I
47. Dusty Springfield – I Can’t Make It Alone
48. Can – Chain Reaction
49. Miguel – Adorn
50. Anita Baker – You Bring Me Joy

The best of Werner Herzog’s feature films

I suppose I can say that this German enigma got worse as a director of fiction; like most people I prefer Burden of Dreams to Fitzcarraldo (and wonder how Mick Jagger would’ve fared), and I’d watch Fata Morgana, The White Diamond, and Grizzly Bear right now, documentaries in which his pulpish meditations and subjects merge.

1. Aguirre, the Wrath of God
2. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
3. Stroszek
4. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
5. Woyzeck
6. Fitzcarraldo

Ranking Cher’s UK and US top ten singles

With a voice like brass polished with amaretto and skin cream, Cher has dwelt in the popular imagination for six decades. She began as a distaff folkie, offering husband-songwriter-producer Sonny Bono reassuring sentiments in “I Got You Babe” and a series of sixties hits. Her timbre and TV appearances didn’t project much warmth, though, which gave their material its healthy tensions.

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