Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday's Music Game: The Perfect Disc

We all have them...those perfect or near-perfect albums. You know the ones. Great from start to finish, the kind of CD you can put in anytime and listen straight through without even a consideration of skipping a track. I have a few of them, so this week I thought we could reveal just one of our perfect discs and talk a little bit about them. What makes them perfect? Is there anything else significant about the disc? Whatever you want. So go for it. We may all discover something new to add to our personal CD collections.



My first perfect CD is Bruce Cockburn's Humans. I discovered Cockburn while working in college radio in 1979, first with Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws, featuring the hit "Wondering Where the Lions Are," and then the prior album, Further Adventures Of. By the time Humans dropped in 1980 I was a huge fan and was eagerly awaiting this new disc. And I certainly wasn't disappointed. Lyrically it is much darker and more depressing than the previous few albums, and is sort of a bridge between the folky-acoustic Cockburn, and his more rock and world music influenced material of the eighties. Evidently much of the lyrical impetus for the album was born out of the muse of personal failure, and the songs really hit home.  And while there are numerous socio-political references on this album, Cockburn still hadn't become overly preoccupied with world politics in ways that would hamper the beauty, and effectiveness, of some of his later works.

If you are a Cockburn fan, make sure you revisit this album. If you've never really heard much of Cockburn's work, this would be a good place to start. Check it out.

Now...tell me about one of your perfect albums...

13 comments:

biffitzitis said...

U2 - The Joshua Tree. No question about it, no second guessing from other parts of my brain.

This record, aside from being a beautifully crafted musical achievement, was released at a pivotal point in my ancient history. It underscored and punctuated my life.

I miss listening to a work such as The Joshua Tree on a turntable. Where listening to the songs in their intended order was the norm, unless someone was willing to get up and lift the needle.

Ken said...

Nice choice! I love that album as well, but interestingly enough, it's not my favorite U2 album. Thanks for playing along!

Justin said...

Pearl Jam — Ten. I can't imagine a more perfectly constructed rock album. I think the "album" has been de-emphasized, but the flow and
rhythm of this one is so good. A lot of Pearl Jam junkies put their nose up at this album for being too mainstream, but I don't buy that just because some of the tracks crossed over to mainstream radio that the album is somehow tainted.

It's hard for me to pick out highlights because all of the tracks are so good. "Once" is a kickass opener. The soaring chords of "Alive" still hold up. "Jeremy," along with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is one of the defining tracks of a movement. To me, "Black" is the perfect rock song. It's my favorite of all time.

Every track brings something to the table and it all builds up until "Release." I still love it, what, 17 years later?

Ken said...

Another interesting choice, Justin. Never really been a Pearl Jam fan, though I'm not sure why. Never really gave them much of a chance. I'll have to check it out and listen more closely some time.

danielklotz.com said...

Contenders for me would include Radiohead's Hail to the Thief; Sixpence None the Richer's eponymous album, which flows straight through from start to finish; Led Zeppelin's Zoso; Pearl Jam's Live on Two Legs; Dylan's Blonde on Blonde; Springsteen's Born to Run; Sam Phillips's Martinis & Bikinis; Cash's American IV; U2's A Sort of Homecoming; Tortoise's It's All Around You.

I think I'm going to be the white boy going out on a limb, though, and make my pick Nas's Illmatic. It's self-conscious in a smart way that no other hip-hop record had ever been, simple and from the streets in its sound yet complex and groundbreaking in its variety within the limited confines of its instrumentation.

Ken said...

Way to go Daniel. I think I'd pay to see you listening to that album. Somehow I just never saw you as a hip-hop kinda guy. But the image in my head now....

Jeff said...

I've been struggling with identifying an album ever since you posted. "The Joshua Tree" comes to mind immediately, but these days I like the live interpretations of the hits better than the originals.

"The Charity of Night" by Bruce Cockburn seems to fit the bill. It's a darkly spiritual album that connects with me on a deep level every time I listen to it. "Pacing the Cage" and "The Whole Night Sky" are gorgeous songs.

Ken said...

Pacing the Cage is one of my all time favorite Cockburn songs.

matthewrrr said...

I'll have to go for a pretty new album, and that is The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow. If you've never heard you will be in for a nice surprise. These melodies will be in your head for days.

justashcraft said...

I think that is one of the toughest questions for me to answer. I think one that immediately comes to mind is No Name Face by Lifehouse. "Hanging by a Moment" and "Everything" are the perfect bookends. Another one that comes to mind is "Never Take Friendship Personal" by Anberlin. That one is just a wonderful mix of songs. A third one that comes to mind is Mat Kearney's "Nothing Left to Lose." "Girl America" and "Undeniable" are some of my favorites of all time. My favorite EP of all time is Dashboard Confessional's one EP. It has "For You to Notice," "Remember to Breathe" and "Hands Down" plus one other song. It flows cause it tells a story.

But my perfect disc, is probably Mae's "The Everglow." Amazing from beginning to end, they mixed that album just perfect. The songs pour right into each other. It is AWESOME.

Ken said...

Some nice choices, Justin. Did you get to see Mae last time they were in town at the Chameleon? Good show.

Chet said...

"Yonder" by Peter Rowan and Jerry Douglas. Here's why, in a review I wrote some time back for Rambles...

http://www.rambles.net/douglas_yonder.html

Andrew Steeley said...

I'm going with my favorite band, The Wallflowers, with their album "Breach." It took four years for Jakob Dylan and company to concoct a follow-up to their smash sophomore effort "Bringing Down The Horse," but the album surpassed all levels of expectation and anticipation. It's a much darker, more personal, and more mature record, swearing off any pressure to create "radio friendly" tunes, and with each listen you sense a sort of sonic and thematic relationship among all the songs on the album. Absolutely a complete record. October 10, 2000, was a good day for this Wallflowers fan.