Friday, June 17, 2011

Rock Albums Post Two

Pat Benatar - Crimes Of Passion 
Pat Benatar's 2nd studio album continued in the same new wave alt-rock style as her 1979 debut "In The Heat Of The Night". "Crimes Of Passion" released in August 1980 showed a maturation in Benatar's attitude and a very solid choice in material. The album brought Benatar her first Grammy award for Best Female Rock Vocal of 1980.

Included on "Crimes Of Passion" is her signature tune "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", which was her first U.S. Top Ten hit and achieved gold status for selling more than 1 million copies.  The song "Hell Is For Children" is about child abuse in America. The royalties for the song are still donated to various child abuse causes and charities. Although the album contains many Benatar originals some of the best songs are covers. She does a great cover of The Rascals 1967 hit "You Better Run" in which she gracefully belts the tune with a female toughness only rivaled by Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders.  One of the album's most surprising songs is Benatar's cover of Kate Bush's charming "Wuthering Heights". Benatar successfully covers the song with a tempo change and keep the same sort of yearning feel as Benatar chimes in with a emotionally beautiful vocal and adds a bit of musical edge and muscle to it.

The album is full of outstanding tunes including this reviewers all-time favorite tunes by Benatar, "I'm Gonna Follow You" and "Never Wanna Leave You".Both containing a cool and sly sort of new wave feel. The latter includes an extremely effective bass line and some of the best guitar licks found on any Pat Benatar album.

Cat Power - What Would The Community Think
With this recording Cat Power's 3rd studio album her voice shows a development of strength, focus and empathy from her previous albums. Her hushed vocals are backed by guitar, feedback and echoing keyboards.

This 1996 release brought Cat Power (known as Chan Marshall) to the attention of critic whom almost unanimously gave the album rave reviews. Rolling Stone Magazine gave the album 4 stars out of 5 and commented, "What Would the Community Think is leaner and tougher, powered by the rhythm section of Two Dollar Guitar guitarist Tim Foljahn and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley." Alternative Press magazine liked it even more giving it a 5 star rating.

Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley produced the album, as well as playing drums for her. The album contains a variety of sounds including alt-rock ("Good Clean Fun" and "Nude As The News"), reflective modern folk ("King Rides By" and "Water and Air") and country tinged tunes ("They Tell Me" and "Taking People") which benefit from Chan's soulful delivery.

The album's lead single, "Nude as the News" was Cat Power's first song to receive an official music video in 1997, directed by Brett Vapnek. In retrospect, Marshall has divulged that the ambiguous lyrics to the song were written about an abortion she had in 1992, and the names "Jackson" and "Jesse" in the song are references to Patti Smith's two children.

Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland
Released on September 16, 1968 "Electric Ladyland" was Jimi Hendrix's first and only U.S. #1 album. His 3rd and final studio album showcased Hendrix's wide scope of musical interest. He included a variety of music genres including the psychedelic "Burning of the Midnight Lamp," previously a UK single in the summer of 1967; the extended blues jam "Voodoo Chile;" the New Orleans-style R&B of Earl King's "Come On;" the avant-gard and epic studio production of "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be);" the smooth R&B sounds of "Have you Ever been To electric Ladyland;" the social commentary of "House Burning Down;" and the Sixties-era Britpop of Noel Redding's "Little Miss Strange."

 The double album included a reworking of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower", which has been praised by Dylan as well as critics. The song reached #20 in the U.S. and the top ten in several parts of Europe. This was Hendrix's only U.S. Top 40 hit."Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" placed at #1 on the UK charts in 1970.

This was the only album Hendrix produced. His studio perfectionism was legendary. He and Mitchell recorded well over 50 takes of "Gypsy Eyes" over three sessions, Hendrix generally insecure about his voice and often recording his vocals hidden behind studio screens. Hendrix sings all the backing vocals himself on the title track and on "Long Hot Summer Night". He was said to be very happy with the vocal results on "Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland."

The album is ranked at #54 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums. "I'm getting myself personally together in the way of music," Hendrix said on the release of his third album. "Some tracks are getting very long. That's why you can only get about twenty tracks — our type of tracks, anyway — onto two records."

The album cover on the UK edition was a photo of nude women, which was eventually replaced when Experience Hendrix took over Hendrix's catalog. Experience Hendrix is run by his family. 

Guests on the album include: 
Dave Mason (twelve string guitar on"all Along The Watchtower" and backing vocals on "Crosstown Traffic")
Buddy Miles (drums on "Rainy Day Dream Away" and "Still Raining Still Dreaming")
Steve Winwood (organ on "Voodoo Chile")

Japan - Quiet Life
"Quiet Life" is the 3rd studio album by British band Japan released in December 1979. "Quiet Life" was a departure from their previous two albums which were influenced by the alternative glam rock sound which was popular throughout the early and mid seventies. "Quiet Life" leaned more toward the new wave and new romantic sound which was made popular in the early 80's by bands such as Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Visage and of course Japan. The album is also noted for being the first time lead singer and guitarist David Sylvian used his baritone vocal style which became a trademark for the band.

Initially the album was not a success and it wasn't until after the success of Japan's late 1981 album "Tin Drum", that "Quiet Life" finally reached the Top 40 in the UK and went on to sell over 100,000 copies earning them a Gold certification.

Two singles were released from the album "Quiet Life" and a cover of "All Tomorrow's Parties" which was originally recorded by Velvet Underground and Nico. Both songs received limited airplay with "Quiet Life" receiving some club rotation in the U.S. and UK.

Led Zeppelin III
Unlike other bands who made it big after two or three albums Led Zeppelin was huge right from the start. Zep formed in 1968 and released their first album in January of 1969 their debut reached the Top 10 in both the U.S. and UK and was in the Top 20 in several other countries around the world. Led Zeppelin II was released later in 1969 and was a worldwide #1 hit.

Their third album Led Zeppelin III proved that Zep was not a flash in the pan. These guys let the world know that they have what it takes to rock and roll with the best of the best. Led Zeppelin III was released on October 5, 1970 and reached #1 in the U.S., UK, Australia and Canada.  The album also made the Top 5 in numerous countries around the world including japan, Spain, France, Germany and others.

Several of the songs on III were conceived and composed in a cottage in Wales, known as
Bron-Yr-Aur, which had no running water or electricity. This encouraged the band to get in touch with a change of musical direction. Many of the songs put an emphasis on acoustic arrangements. 

Plant expressed his recollections:
"[Bron-Yr-Aur] was a fantastic place in the middle of nowhere with no facilities at all-and it was a
fantastic test of what we could do in that environment. Because by that time we'd become obsessed with change, and the great thing was that we were also able to create a pastoral side of Led Zep."

After Plant and Page composed and prepared the material for the album they were joined by the rest of the band at Headley Grange, a run down mansion in East Hampshire, to rehearse the songs. The album  was recorded in May and June of 1970 at both Headley Grange and Olympic Studios in London. Some  additional work was done at Island Records and mixing was done at Ardent Studios in Memphis. 
The album's opening track "The Immigrant Song" was released as a single and became one of Led Zeppelin's biggest hits. It reached #16 in the U.S. and made the Top 10 in Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands and Switzerland. It's b-side was the non-LP song "Hey, Hey What Can I Do". The song "Friends" stands out for having a slight bit of a Middle Eastern influence in it's sound. Page used an Altair Tube Limiter to enhance the acoustic quality of his Harmony guitar. This same device was later used by Page on "All My Love", which was included on their "In Through the Out Door" album. The song "Gallows Pole" is an updated arrangement of a traditional folk song called "The Maid Freed from the Gallows". Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter recorded the song in 1939 as "Gallis Pole". "Tangerine" brings us to a melancholy side of Zeppelin which pulls at the heartstrings. Featuring an acoustic country flavor courtesy of the pedal steel guitar playing of Page, the song has it's origins in an old Yardbirds song titled "Knowing That I'm Losing You". The album concludes with "Hats Off to (Roy)
Harper", a track dedicated to their influential contemporary and friend, Roy Harper, honoring Harper’s work and acknowledging the band's roots in acoustic music.

Radiohead - The King Of Limbs
"The King Of Limbs" brings Radiohead back to a more abstract and experimental sound which was prominent on earlier works such as "Kid A" and "OK Computer". The album makes good use of loops, samples and ambient sounds, and an emphasis on percussion and drummer Phil Selway and bassist Colin Greenwood's rhythm section.

Released in February and March 2011 the album has reached the Top 10 in many parts of the world, although is not faring as well as their previous four albums. Critics on the other hand have given the Radiohead's 8th studio album extremely good reviews with Metacritic assigned the album an average score of 80 (out of 100) based on 34 reviews.

The album includes a few instrumentals with "Feral" being one of the more interesting. The song features cut-up loops and fuzzy yet very appealing bass line. "little By Little" is a dark tune in which Thom Yorke sings of the mystery of attraction.  The album's highlight "Lotus Flower" features an infectiously driving bass line, synthesized sound effect, clapping rhythms and Thom Yorke's soul stirring falsetto.

Rammstein - Liebe ist für alle da
Rammstein is a new industrial metal  from Berlin, Germany formed in 1994. Their popularity spans the globe and they've sold near 20 million albums worldwide. Their songs are usually in German, but they have also performed songs entirely or partially in other languages such as English, Spanish, French and Russian.

Liebe ist für alle da released in October 2009 is their 6th studio album. It reached #1 in Germany, Austria, Finland, The Netherlands and Switzerland. As well as reaching #13 in the U.S. and #16 in the UK. To date this is their biggest selling album worldwide.

 The English meaning of Liebe ist für alle da is Love Is For Everyone and the songs on this album frame the band's vision of love from the physical to the emotional. The controversial song "Pu**y", the album's debut single was released as a single to an adult website in which the male band members appeared nude (played by body doubles). The song was a commentary on the sexual mores of German society and that of America. The song was Rammstein's first and only #1 hit in Germany and also hit #1 in Finland.

Haifisch was another single released from the album. this one only reached 33 in Germany and did not chart anywhere else. The song is a dark and eerie song. It's an ode to the shark. Right before announcing the video premier, the info letter from Rammstein's website left this quote regarding the song: "the shark not only has teeth – he’s got tears as well. But since it lives in the briny deep, no one sees them. A shame. After all, this cartilaginous fish is one of the oldest of the world’s many misunderstood creatures. A bit more sympathy couldn’t hurt!"

Santogold is also known as Santigold. She was born in Philadelphia in 1976 her real name is Santi White. She released her debut album simply titled "Santogold" on April 29, 2008. The album met with minor success throughout the U.S. and parts of Europe. "Santogold" reached #74 on the U.S. Billboard album chart and #26 in the UK. Her highest chart position was #25 in Belgium.

Santogold's goal of the album was to "help break down boundaries and genre classifications" and show that she wasn't just "a black woman singing R&B." "The cool thing is that I was able to work with all these genres that are typically sub-cultural, like dub or punk or something, and then, by writing in a way that had hooks, made it accessible to everyone."

Sani has said she loves 80's new wave and pop music. One of her biggest influence is Devo, they are her ultimate favorite band.  Some of her material has been compared to the Pixies, who Santi cites as an influence. She grew up listening to a lot of reggae and jazz and her main influences are James Brown and Aretha Franklin.

Rolling Stone Magazine rated the album 5 stars out of 5 saying that Santogold "mixes dub, electronic and new wave for one of the year's most unique debuts."

One of the album's highlights is the song "My Superman" which was co-written by Siouxsie and the Banshees. Santi said that she took inspiration of the number "Red Light". "'My Superman' is an interpolation of a Siouxsie Sioux song, 'Red Light,'" she explained. "I love her song and I love this song."

X Marks The Pedwalk - Inner Zone Journey
X Marks The Pedwalk is a German band formed in 1987, whose styles range from post-industrial dance to electronic body music. 

"Inner Zone Journey" is their 6th studio album and was released on April 13, 2010. It was released 12 years after their previous album "Freaks" from 1998. This comeback garnered much attention with the fans of industrial music and was received quite well by critics.

This new album finds XMTP utilizing a somewhat ethereal mood to communicate it's message on several of the songs yet never letting go of the industrial dance pulse which made the band famous in the first place. "Inner Zone Journey" has a slight bit of a pop feel that was not present on any of their previous album, the songs here are radio accessible in an alternative sort of way. Like previous albums the inclusion of female backing vocals works beautifully to compliment lead singer Sevren Ni-Arb's muscular yet clear vocals.

The album contains numerous highlights including the down-tempo "Satellite" and the mysteriously serene "Obscure Reason". "Clean Hearts" brings us back to the typical XMTP sound with a deep house bass line and a multi-layered electronic sound. "Runaway" has been described as having hit potential and this reviewers favorite song, "Seventeen" was the albums only song to be released as a single.

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