Thursday, April 3, 2008

Casual Listening Extra 4-4-08

Casual Listening


April 4, 2008

R.E.M. – Accelerate (rock)

Here's the track list for the E.P. that this album should have been:

  1. Living Well is the Best Revenge
  2. Man-Sized Wreath
  3. Hollow Man
  4. Houston
  5. Accelerate

What’s there is strong, even edgy, but there’s lots of filler. Had they stopped at 5, then we could have called Accelerate R.E.M.’s return to form. Alas.

Moby – Last Night (dance)

Cool, quirky dance beats, layered with interesting samples. To my ears, this one doesn’t have the soul of the blues-inspired Play, but there are still some fun tracks here.

The Sword – Gods of the Earth (metal)

I'm feeling sentimental about the recent death of Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons. The Sword is, too. Here are a sampling of song titles: "The Frost Giant's Daughter," "How Heavy This Axe," and "Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians." Just by listening to this album, you get a +2 bonus on all of your saving throws.

25 Years of Thriller

I had a reader request that for the 25th anniversary of this album, I review it as if it were a new release. Here it is:

Michael Jackson –Thriller (R&B)

Dance friendly and often funky tunes from one of the original Jackson 5. Precise production work includes horns, electric guitar, and a variety of percussion behind Jackson’s suggestive vocals.

25 years ago, this was my favorite album, and I was nervous to review it again, especially given the constraints of the Casual Listening format. I usually make a decision about whether to review an album in the first two, maybe three songs. In this case the first three tracks are Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Baby Be Mine, and The Girl is Mine. So the biggest hits – Thriller, Beat It, and Billy Jean – didn’t even figure into the equation. Thriller was also an album made by MTV. I can visualize most of these songs – the zombies dancing, the knife fight, Michael flying down the fire escape. Casual Listening doesn't have that luxury. Knowing the cards were against me, I put it on, and realized how good this album really was. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' is a remarkable song even today, mixing in African rhythms with the funk. I didn't even remember Baby Be Mine, but it held up well. The Girl is Mine...well, two out of three ain't bad. Thriller would have made the Casual Listening list, probably somewhere in the middle of the order with an unstarred review. Maybe an injustice to one of the greatest albums of all time, but not as far off as I expected to be.

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