i've never been too heavily into hall and oates, but sara smiles, i think, is one great song. you just can't get around it.
i can't get behind you on lionel richie. maybe the only song of his i could listen to today from his list of number ones would be say you say me. but i probably tolerated them much better during his time in the 80's. i also hold his daughter, nicole, against him. but i respect him as a songwriter and his savvy in the music business. you can't argue with his success. always loved at this moment - was that the only hit they ever had? it really has held up over the years. i don't have any of the pretenders stuff, but i don't see how you can't really like them, or be in awe of chrissie hynde. true chick rockers are so far and few between in the male dominated world of ROCK, and chrissie is just cool without even trying. life in a northern town is a great, great song. i never appreciated it when it was on the charts. it wasn't until years later, when i heard it in a movie, i think, where something clicked and i just fell in love with it. well written and it stays in my head for hours after i hear it. i used to sit in the backseat of my sister's car when i was around 11 or 12 while she and her best friend would get stoned and we'd drive around listening to the cars. that is what i'll always associate the cars with. if i had a top whatever list of my favorite 80's songs, crowded house's don't dream its over would be number one, without question. i've loved that song since the first time i heard it, and i have never tired of it.
Mr. Atari's Top 100 Songs of the '80s (the Grand Finale)
10: "Something About You"- Level 42 Mark King is a legend as a bass player. He's also an exceptional singer. If you haven't paid attention to his work on this or any other Level 42 song, it's never too late to start. This song has always been one that makes me stop doing whatever it is I'm doing and listen closely. I love the bass slapping, the melody, and the falsetto chorus. They followed this hit up with "Lessons in Love" which is also tremendous. Level 42 were as much a jazz and funk band as they were a pop outfit, and you can tell in how they add notes to their chords, mess around with their rhythms, and especially in their solos. The guitar solo at the end of "Something About You" is one of my all time favorites. There's nothing particularly impressive about it, it's just perfectly melodic and tasteful. Great musicians making catchy songs. It's a theme.
9: "Come On Eileen"- Dexy's Midnight Runners There's not much more to write about this song than has already been written. It's the best one-hit wonder ever. It's got fiddles, accordion, and a banjo. It's got a "boom ba-boom" rhythm that gets the toes tappin'. It has an intro, verse, and chorus that are in 3 different keys. It has an end-of-the-song bridge that turns it into a party anthem with it's building "too-ra-loo-ra"s. It's one of those songs that doesn't sound like anything that came before or after. It's one of those songs that you either love or hate. If you're anything like me (and I know I am), you love it.
8: "No One Is To Blame"- Howard Jones Howard Jones always reminded me a bit of Joe Jackson. Just like Jackson gets criminally overlooked for his output in the '70s, Jones is criminally overlooked for his contributions to the '80s. Let the record show that Howard Jones created perfect British synth-pop for the '80s. "New Song", "What is Love?", "Like to Get to Know You Well", "Things Can Only Get Better", "Life in One Day", "You Know I Love You...Don't You?", and "Everlasting Love" are seven songs off the top of my head that I remember loving in the '80s, and I remember loving in the '90s, and I remember loving earlier this afternoon. Jones was the master of hooks, melody, and songwriting. What makes "No One Is To Blame" stand out are the incredible lyrics (with words like "aspirations"), and Phil Collins on drums and bg vocals. The piano riff is a classic, but when Phil comes in with the drum fill to kick of the second verse, it makes this song a top 10.
7: "The Living Years" - Mike + The Mechanics Speaking of Phil Collins, we've had him, Genesis and Peter Gabriel already, but because of this song, Mike Rutherford scores highest of the Genesis guys. My dad is still alive and I have a great relationship with him, but this song still makes me sob like a little girl. Way more moving than a pop song has any right to be, and pulls it off perfectly. I love Mike's chucka-chucka guitar line. I love how the drums don't come in until halfway through the song. Paul Carrack has one of the best voices in the business, and he captures the emotion amazingly. Have you ever tried to sing along with this? Good luck getting through it without choking up. After you listen to this, go back into M+tM's catalog and listen to "Silent Running" or "All I Need Is a Miracle" for a pick-me-up. Those songs are awesome, too.
6: "Africa"- Toto I was never a huge Toto fan. Too many of their songs are AM-lite rock, which is really too bad because there's no denying their musicianship. They formed after getting to know each other as high-demand session players. Steve Lukather (guitar) and the late Jeff Porcaro (drums) are legends among their peers. "Africa" was an unexpected hit- even the band thought it was too complex and different to release- but it made it to #1 (almost a year after its release!). It holds up today, and has some enigmatic lyrics which are still debated. It's a romantic song, it's a catchy song, it's a classic song. It also makes a snazzy ringtone. And even though I respect and admire everything he did on a drumkit, I still find it hilarious that Porcaro died in a bizarre gardening accident.
5: "Overkill" - Men at Work If this song was written in any era in any genre, it would still be as good. The chord progression is haunting (especially the move under "ghosts appear and fade away"), the lyrics are probably my favorite of any song on this list, and Colin Hay's vocals range from quiet desperation to full-on exasperation (with amazing variation). I particularly enjoy the shimmery guitar solo dripping in delay. I've always liked Men at Work, and their songs "Down Under", "Who Can It Be Now?", and "It's a Mistake" merit their inclusion this high on the list. But unlike those songs, "Overkill" isn't saddled with the goofy reggae or overpowering '80s saxophone. Instead, it's a straight-ahead moody rock song that remains one of my all-time favorites.
4: "Every Breath You Take" - The Police The gold standard of pop songs. After Sting wrote it and brought it to the band, they all looked at each other and knew the end of the band was near because, well, how can you top it? It's a simple enough song, but then Andy Summers had to go and put one of the most recognizable and most difficult to play guitar licks underneath it all. The Police were one of the best bands ever, let alone in the '80s. The cumulative effect of all their hits, from "Message in a Bottle" to "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" to "King of Pain" to "Wrapped Around Your Finger", put them on the fast track to my top 10. They were too melodic to be punk, but too bombastic to be new wave. They were too complicated to be pre-packaged pop, but too mainstream to be progressive. So what were they? Great musicians who wrote catchy songs. Again.
3: "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" - Tears for Fears I agonized for a long time in what order to put the top 3; so much so that you could rearrange them to fit your fancy and I'd be okay with it. Songs from the Big Chair was an album I wore out. Wore. Out. "Shout" and "Head over Heels" are outstanding songs. But this one takes the crown. The 3 over 2 rhythm (triplets on the hi-hats, eighth notes everywhere else) excites my drummer parts. The counter-point between the repetitive clean guitar riff and the moving synth riff makes my ears tingle. The bridge ("there's a room where the light won't find you...") hits you like a shot of whiskey. The lyrics are never out of style and right on the nose. Then there's the guitar solo. Ooooohhhh the guitar solo. Who knew a #1 pop song could have a solo that amazing? Seriously, go listen to it and tell me different. Plus, it was featured in Real Genius, a classic of the '80s if there ever was one. This song is a masterpiece.
2: "The Power of Love" - Huey Lewis & The News Speaking of songs featured in classic '80s movies... I love Huey Lewis. I know it, you know it, let the whole world know it. They weren't an '80s band. They were a blues-based, R&B influenced, down & dirty, vintage rock band; with a horn section, a B-3 player, two guitars, and a gravelly voiced frontman who played a mean harmonica. And I'm sorry, but if you can't get behind that, then you don't like rock & roll. They were like the Blues Brothers, but with better vocals and no suits. They had 19 singles reach the top 10. "Do You Believe in Love" (written and produced by the oft-mentioned Mutt Lange), "Workin' for a Livin'", "Heart and Soul", "I Want a New Drug", "The Heart of Rock & Roll", and "If This Is It" were all hits before Back to the Future. And "Stuck With You", "Hip to be Square", "Jacob's Ladder", and "I Know What I Like" were all hits after. In the middle of this incredible run of great songs came the perfect pairing of the greatest movie of the '80s and (arguably) the best song of the '80s. The awesome guitar hook in the verse is in C-minor, but the chorus is in C-major, making for a nice, sudden pick-me-up. The bridge (and it's an awesome bridge) is in Eb, which makes for a great turn-around that even Paul McCartney would be proud of. Top it all off with a nice, dirty Telecaster solo, and you've got an all-time classic song. Back to the Future came out in 1985, when I was 10. It was the first time I was allowed to go to a movie without my parents. Whenever I hear this song, I'm immediately 10 years old again and Marty is still bumming rides from the back of jeeps on his skateboard.
1: "Rosanna" - Toto I had to break the one-song-per-artist rule for this because both "Rosanna" and "Africa" are top-10 quality songs. So why is "Rosanna" number 1? First of all, it has a legendary drumbeat. I was once playing a recording session and the songwriter was growing increasingly frustrated because I couldn't understand the groove he was going for. The producer came on in my headphones and said, "Rosanna, Jeff. He's looking for Rosanna". I immediately knew what he meant, and played it to the songwriter's great joy. Second of all, it is amazingly catchy. The verse gets stuck in your head, the pre-chorus gets stuck in your head, and the chorus really gets stuck in your head. There isn't a single note in this song that isn't catchy. Third of all, it's incredibly complicated. That legendary drumbeat isn't easy to play, let me tell you. The verse chords pass through 2 different keys before getting to the pre-chorus & chorus, which are in a different key again. Then there's that mind-blowing horn riff & drum fill into the chorus. Fourth of all, the musicianship is unparalleled. I mean not even close. Listen to the song, and only listen to the bass. It's scary good. Or try it with only listening to the piano. Sick. Or the vocals, all 3 lead-singers worth. And then at the end, pay close attention to the solos. The dueling synths with horn section accompaniment, followed by a blistering Steve Lukather special bring you back to the chorus. Then, after the last chorus, it really begins (and idiot DJ's have been cutting it off for decades! GRRR!). First up is a boogie-woogie piano solo that I'll spend my whole life learning. Then the horns come in, and it gets handed off to Lukather again who rips the roof off the joint. If great musicians making catchy songs is what I love (and it is), then unmatched musicians making an incredibly catchy song that gets better the more intently you listen to it deserves to be at the top of my list.
Last Edit: Aug 8, 2010 0:19:11 GMT -5 by Mr. Atari
And a final handy reference guide for all you list lovers:
1: Rosanna - Toto 2: The Power of Love - Huey Lewis & the News 3: Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears 4: Every Breath You Take - The Police 5: Overkill - Men at Work 6: Africa - Toto 7: The Living Years - Mike + the Mechanics 8: No One is to Blame - Howard Jones 9: Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners 10: Something About You - Level 42 11: Fortress Around Your Heart - Sting 12: Drive - The Cars 13: Don't Dream It's Over - Crowded House 14: Life in a Northern Town - The Dream Academy 15: The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby & The Range 16: Back on the Chain Gang - The Pretenders 17: At This Moment - Billy Vera & the Beaters 18: Maneater - Hall & Oates 19: All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie 20: Tarzan Boy - Baltimora
21: Hold Me Now - Thompson Twins 22: Love Shack - B-52s 23: Always Something There to Remind Me - Naked Eyes 24: With or Without You - U2 25: Livin' on a Prayer - Bon Jovi 26: Land of Confusion - Genesis 27: Against All Odds - Phil Collins 28: Kyrie - Mr. Mister 29: Bizarre Love Triangle - New Order 30: Der Kommissar - After the Fire 31: When Doves Cry - Prince 32: Don't You Forget About Me - Simple Minds 33: If You Leave - OMD 34: Steppin' Out - Joe Jackson 35: Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran 36: Take on Me - A-Ha 37: Boys of Summer - Don Henley 38: Tainted Love - Soft Cell 39: Every Time You Go Away - Paul Young 40: Only a Lad - Oingo Boingo
41: West End Girls - Pet Shop Boys 42: Don't Shed a Tear - Paul Carrack 43: Jeopardy - The Greg Kihn Band 44: Sara - Starship 45: 99 Luftballons - Nena 46: What You Need - INXS 47: Walking on Sunshine - Katrina and the Waves 48: Would I Lie to You? - The Eurythmics 49: Beat It - Michael Jackson 50: Why Can't This Be Love? - Van Halen 51: I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty 52: Big Time - Peter Gabriel 53: Stone in Love - Journey 54: Time after Time - Cyndi Lauper 55: Sister Christian - Night Ranger 56: Missing You - John Waite 57: You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - Dead or Alive 58: St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion) - John Parr 59: I Can Dream About You - Dan Hartman 60: Talking In Your Sleep - The Romantics
61: Break My Stride - Matthew Wilder 62: She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby 63: Sea of Love - The Honeydrippers 64: Jessie's Girl- Rick Springfield 65: Paradise City- Guns 'n' Roses 66: Cult of Personality - Living Colour 67: Owner of a Lonely Heart- Yes 68: Calling America - ELO 69: Summer of '69 - Bryan Adams 70: Holding Back the Years - Simply Red 71: The Look of Love - ABC 72: I Knew You Were Waiting For Me - Aretha Franklin & George Michael 73: Everybody Wants You - Billy Squier 74: Second Wind (You're Only Human) - Billy Joel 75: I Wanna Know What Love is- Foreigner 76: Twilight Zone- Golden Earring 77: Centerfield- John Fogerty 78: Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen 79: Higher Love - Steve Winwood 80: Goody Two Shoes - Adam Ant
81: I Wanna Be a Cowboy - Boys Don't Cry 82: Pour Some Sugar on Me - Def Leppard 83: Keep Your Hands to Yourself- The Georgia Satellites 84: Addicted to Love - Robert Palmer 85: Your Love - The Outfield 86: Never Surrender - Corey Hart 87: And We Danced - The Hooters 88: Dance Hall Days - Wang Chung 89: Come Dancing - The Kinks 90: Small Town - John Mellencamp 91: Burning Down the House - Talking Heads 92: The Search is Over - Survivor 93: Our House - Madness 94: Lovin' Every Minute Of It - Loverboy 95: Rock This Town - Stray Cats 96: Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Pat Benatar 97: One More Try - George Michael 98: Too Shy - Kajagoogoo 99: Major Tom (Coming Home) - Peter Schilling 100: She's a Beauty - The Tubes
Last Edit: Aug 8, 2010 0:27:37 GMT -5 by Mr. Atari
Good god, Huey Lewis in the No. 2 spot? You, sir, deserve credit where credit is due. There's no way that song doesn't get turned up for me when it comes on the radio. Even the BTTF memories sound familiar. Very cool list.
Incidentally, the song I was watching for earlier in your list was 88 Lines About 44 Women by The Nails, but I can see why it didn't make it. It's really more of a chant than a song, but it's still catchy.
I'm also going to dig up my copy of Toto's Africa. Good stuff, Mr. A.
Well anyway, hi there, folks. You know, I'd been having trouble with velvet leaf, uh, cutworm and, uh, foxtail and, well, that's when the representative from Monsanto came out to my farm. He recommended a pre-emergent, inferral mixture of Lorsban with Atrazine in a tank mix and I told him to get off my land. - Farmer Joel
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 10, 2010 0:13:01 GMT -5
Great work, it’s hard to believe it’s already finished.
Of the final 10 though, Only Tears For Fears really grabs me. The Police are good and the Howard Jones song isn't bad.
As for Huey, I remember when I first saw him on MTV; I thought he looked like someone who would have played in your dad’s bowling league. And that he made music that your dad would find hip and cool. The News was to music what a plain piece of unbuttered toast would be to a gourmet meal… pretty dull. (despite this opinion, I still like rock and roll)
And now that I’ve said that, I expect reprisals directed towards my personal #1. ;D
This guy didn’t even make the list, not that I expected him to. I’ve never seen you mention him pro or con in past threads. But if I made a list of the 80s best, the song at the top would likely be Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”.
Primarily because it -and the album- became the soundtrack to one of the best times of my life. It was 1983; I was in my early 20s, in love for the first time in my life. I had a group of close friends that I hung out with, shared some kicks, drank California Coolers and whenever this song would come on the radio, we’d all sing it at the top of our lungs. Driving down to the State line crying “MORE! MORE! MORE!”
When I think of good 80s music, Idol’s always the first name that springs to mind.
All in all though I enjoyed the read, that was a lot of work and even if a song wasn't to my taste, you expressed your reasons for inclusion intellegently. I salute you.
I'm glad you mentioned your personal #1, MJ. I was going to ask for everyone else's topper. I knew you were going to have problems with Huey, but I'm curious about the others.
As for Billy Idol, I liked him okay, I guess. "Rebel Yell" was fun, but mainly because it was aggressive. When he tried to go soft, like "Eyes Without A Face", it just didn't work for me. He just didn't have the voice for mellow. But since you asked, I guess I always saw him as a bit of a poseur. Everything you said about what Huey Lewis & the News were to rock and roll, I felt like Billy Idol was to punk. He put on the act of this nasty, dangerous anarchist, when all he had was spiky bleached hair and a sneer (both of which he stole from Sting). I don't have any problems with him trying to go pop or new wave, but at least ditch the bad boy image if your music's going to sound like Elton John.
All of that being said, I don't mean it as a reprisal. As you mentioned, it was the soundtrack to a great time in your life. That's really the subjective piece that drove almost all of my picks, too. So I'd never try to talk you out of your love for Billy Idol. And that's the beauty of this- everyone who lived through the '80s had their own '80s experience. That's why I love Mod City's mention of The Nails, or solgroupie's comments on dancing to these songs or her love for "Don't Dream It's Over", or even mummi & Emperor's praise for The Cure. If all this list does is get everyone to feel nostalgic and go back to listen to their own '80s soundtrack like I've been doing, then it's a success. And very gratifying for me.
Last Edit: Aug 10, 2010 1:15:05 GMT -5 by Mr. Atari
Post by Mighty Jack on Aug 10, 2010 1:56:26 GMT -5
Yeah I can see the poseur thing for Idol. I remember when Generation X came out that was kind of what we all thought. The Ramones were real, The Clash were real but Gen X and Idol were putting on an act - but maybe that was because the band ignored the punk 'rules' of the day, which included them performing a lot of pop stuff (Dancing With Myself was originally a Gen X number). And despite being a member of the Bromley Contingent, Billy was not very Sex Pistol's-like.
But being a poseur was okay because the music was good, and when the band spilt and he paired up with Steve Stephens, that was a huge plus. He always did ballads, so from my perspective those weren't a surprising shift in tone from him (Oh, and the upper lip sneer? Wasn't that Elvis's invention? And didn't they all steal that hair from Johnny Rotten? lol )
As to the other songs on your list, I didn't really have much to say. There's nothing there I hate (not even Huey). Toto was okay, but that was more my friends type of band (the one I mentioned earlier that you shared a lot in common with) as was Come On Eileen (he owned that album) - we looked at it this way, at the time I was the arty weirdo with the strange quirky music and he was AM radio guy who liked things with a bluesy tint. When he was in my band he was always trying to talk me into playing Triumph's "Magic Power", while I was doing covers of Devo's "Mongoloid" (a song which confused and scarred him).
BTW - The News is playing at a local casino here. Billy was just at a State Fair in Oregon (I couldn't make it. Grrr). Our 80s heroes are kind of going the Spinal Tap rout in their old age -- ah well, they'll always be loved by those of us who were there when it began.
And I agree, I wouldn't want to talk anyone out of their love for any music. Despite any (playful) grief I might have given my brother (for example) I'm glad he likes what he likes and has good memories associated with them (so rock on Speedwagon!
Post by solgroupie on Aug 10, 2010 12:55:48 GMT -5
billy idol is playing state fairs now? oh man.
you know, i just heard come on eileen on the radio the other day and as i was cranking it up i wondered if it would make the cut on your list, mr. a. that has got to be one of THE best one hit wonders, ever. i loved tears for fears too, but shout was my main favorite from songs from the big chair. i remember when they came out with sowing the seeds of love with their long hair and hippie clothes and thought - jeeze, what are they trying to prove? but as it turns out, i learned that they did not like songs from the big chair that much - they didn't get to release the songs they wanted to, and it wasn't their original style. the cd sowing the seeds of love was when they were calling the shots and it has a totally different feel to it. much jazzier, but there are a few songs on there i like a lot. i never was a hojo fan, but i loved the living years by mike and the mechanics. everyone i hung out with in high school loved the police, but i privately got very tired of their songs after so long. i thought sting was a little boring, actually, but the older i got, the more i seemed to like sting. his music has definitely stood the test of time. and what do i know? i used to think george michael was straight and wham rocked.
Last Edit: Aug 10, 2010 18:41:16 GMT -5 by solgroupie
Post by mummifiedstalin on Aug 10, 2010 22:07:53 GMT -5
Very fun, Mr. A. I learned quite a bit and even re-evaluated a few things. Toto, not the least, so thanks for opening my ears to what I've always defaulted to as "soft rock" at times. (And ignore my Cure remarks...even their pop stuff lives and dies by atmosphere rather than "good musicians making catchy music"...very different criteria.)
I'm also always impressed when someone can write about things I normally don't like much in a way that opens my eyes/ears to new dimensions. Very cool.
"Why: 'Cuz mummi says so." -- Change B. Goode "5. Butter a midget" -- Ratso's Amazon recommendation More Ratso: post you ass ag bags! Mitchell: I also just used "mount" correctly in a sentence.
I've been a Toto/Mike + The Mechanics fan as long as I can remember, so it was quite nice to see some love for 'em in your top 10, Mr. Atari.
Actually, though I enjoy their hits, I enjoy their non-hits significantly moreso. Particularly in the case of Toto, their non-hits are far less "lite rock" than one might expect. Their last album ("Falling In Between") as well as "Kingdom of Desire" are good examples of their ability to use their musicianship in a more "non-lite" way.
And MAN are they a great live band. It's a real shame they retired as a band last year...
Well, with that singular vote of confidence, here goes...
For the uninitiated and the bored, the backstory of Genesis goes a little something like this-
In 1967, Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, and Anthony Phillips were pals in an upper class British school and decided to start a band. If the Beatles were a bunch of working class dregs from a shipping town, then Genesis were...well, the opposite. They went through a few drummers and recorded a couple albums before they discovered a young Phil Collins. (Odd Trivia: Phil answered an ad for the position, got to the audition early and listened to the other candidates while he swam in Peter Gabriel's parents' pool. By the time his turn came along, he had memorized all of the songs and aced the audition.)
Around the time they hired Collins, Anthony Phillips quit the band due to crippling stage fright. They replaced him with experimental guitarist Steve Hackett. This group of 5 went on to record four albums together before Gabriel left for a solo career in 1975. Hackett left two albums later, leaving Banks, Rutherford, and Collins to carry on as a trio. They took Genesis into the '80s and had overwhelming success over six albums as a radio-ready pop/rock outfit.
Collins quit in the mid-'90s, and the others made an ill-advised attempt to continue, recording one lackluster album with a replacement singer before calling it a career. Collins, Rutherford, and Banks reformed in 2007 for a worldwide tour that gave this fan the concert of his life.
So, what do you say? Enough of my yakkin'. Let's boogie!
Last Edit: Nov 16, 2010 1:16:05 GMT -5 by Mr. Atari
And we're off. I figured I'd give a star rating (1-5), just because.
From Genesis to Revelation (1969)
This is definitely Genesis's "KTMA album". They guys were still teenagers, and recorded the album at the prompting (and creative control) of their old classmate and manager. The band doesn't even own the rights, and most fans regard it as little more than a demo. Formative, but not really worth much except for the novelty. *
If "From Genesis to Revelation" is the KTMA album, then this would certainly follow suit as the "Season 1" album. In fact, the analogy is very apt, as far as personnel is concerned. Anthony Phillips was J. Elvis. Steve Hackett is TV's Frank, and Phil Collins is Kevin Murphy. (Or, the more obvious connection that Phil Collins is Mike Nelson, as he contributed for years before replacing the main guy; and yes, Peter Gabriel is Joel.) Like season 1 of MST, Trespass showed the form and style of what made Genesis great, but was missing some key contributors of what would become the golden age (namely, Hackett & Collins).
That doesn't mean it's a bad album; far from it. The opening track, "Looking for Someone" is one of the forgotten gems of the early days. It's a nice mixture of madrigal and heavy rhythm crunch, a recipe that pretty much summarizes the band's '70s output; and it's all on display there in the first track. It's also a nice showpiece for Gabriel's "harsh" voice. I find that when Gabriel is shout-singing, he's unmatched. The emotion and plaintive power when he sings loudly is wonderful. When he whisper-sings, with his exaggerated enunciation, it's very off-putting to me. Fortunately, Trespass has far more of the former than the latter.
The second track, "White Mountain" is a fun little song about a wolfpack. It also has a pretty 12-string & flute interlude, but it isn't cloying or overdone. The main riff has a nice driving groove, and Banks puts a catchy Hammond organ staccato riff over the top.
The next three songs don't really go anywhere and aren't all that memorable (with the exception of the last 2 minutes of "Stagnation"). After listening to the album straight through a few times again, it becomes noticeable how much drummer John Mayhew loves 16th notes. Boy howdy. Odd trivia: The band fired Mayhew after the recording was done and he disappeared. He never claimed his royalty checks, and wasn't heard from again until a few years ago when his brother found him working as a carpenter in Australia.
The album closes with "The Knife", a fan favorite and their first classic song. It features a driving shuffle beat reminiscent of Hendrix's "Manic Depression". Banks shines on the organ, Rutherford's rocking a fuzz bass, and Phillips's guitar lines couldn't be better. The violent lyrics and vocals are a bit of a shock after an album's worth of pastoral themes about mountains, rivers and snowy meadows.
All in all, Trespass is a good album with a couple great moments, but not a great album. One criticism often levied at progressive rock bands is that they can get too noodle-y without really going anywhere, leaving the listener to say, "GET ON WITH IT!" (Well, the sober listener, anyway...) Genesis eventually became masters of the instrumental interludes that had memorable melodic and rhythmic hooks that worked more like a symphony than a pointless jam session. Not so much here, though. Even the great "Looking for Someone" and "The Knife" would be much better if they were 3 minutes shorter. Still, considering what else was going on in the music world in 1970, that music this complex and pretty came out of anywhere is remarkable. ***
Last Edit: Nov 16, 2010 1:24:53 GMT -5 by Mr. Atari
By the third album, Genesis finally had all the right ingredients. The album starts off with one of the all-time great story songs, "The Musical Box". It's pretty messed up. Gabriel wrote a backstory about two Victorian-era children playing croquet, and the girl decapitates the boy with her mallet. She later finds his favorite toy- a music box that plays "Old King Cole"- and opens it. At that moment, the boy's reconstituted soul reappears and talks to her. The lyrics to the song are his desperate appeal to her about the life he missed out on. The whole thing feels like a crazy Thomas Hardy nightmare. It's creepy, but in a really cool way.
Musically, it's the best of their early work. The arrangement is very orchestral, starting with harpsichord, flute and mandolin and growing into a bombastic crescendo of crunchy guitar, haunting organ and polyrhythmic drums. Hackett's guitar lines and Banks's fuzz organ solo are particularly impressive. The only distraction is Gabriel's creepy whisper-talk-singing that I find especially annoying, especially on words like "touch" and "flesh". It's just really creepy, and not in a cool way.
The next song, "For Absent Friends", is a very pretty two-minute folky ballad about two people going to church to pray for their deceased loved ones. It is a bit of a mix between "Julia" and "The Fool on the Hill", with the only music being Hackett's guitar and Phil Collins's vocal track. A perfect breather after the 10-minute long "Musical Box".
The rest of the album is a mixed bag. "The Return of the Giant Hogweed" is a fun rock song where Gabriel sounds like he's channeling Ozzy Osbourne. The lyrics are over-the-top ridiculous about an unkillable weed that "prepares an onslaught, threatening the human race". "Seven Stones" and "Harold the Barrel" are passable, but unmemorable numbers. "Harlequin" sounds exactly like the title suggests- boring, Victorian, acoustic, madrigal and dull. The closing number, "The Fountain of Salmacis" is a decent bookend to the album. It's a musically complex retelling of the Greek story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus. Collins and Rutherford do a great job as a rhythm section of laying down a creative and interesting backdrop for this one; it's too bad that Collins's drums sound like empty Quaker Oats cans, though.
Overall, Nursery Cryme is a stepping stone album, bridging the gap between the formative years to the era of greatness. Plus, it's got a really messed-up song about child decapitation, so there's that.
Last Edit: Nov 17, 2010 13:20:50 GMT -5 by Mr. Atari