MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #10

Yep, we’ve made a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

We’ve reached the really good stuff: our top 10s. We’ll roll these out one per day (Monday-Friday) over the next two weeks, reaching #1 on Friday, Dec. 14. The following week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.

Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #10: The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

(click play button below to sample this album)

kiss me kiss me kiss me coverThis is when it all started for me. No, this isn’t my highest-ranked Cure album (not a spoiler for anyone who’s known me for a long time) but had I not heard this wide-ranging double album, I might not have subsequently bought Standing on a Beach and pounced on the release of Disintegration and I might be pining for a Skid Row reunion or something like that. (Or I would have heard “Fascination Street” or “Lovesong” in 1989 and gone down the Cure path anyway…who’s to say.) But the album with the lips on the front cover and the eyeball on the back cover got this all started.

Again, I must give my cousin Josh credit; he’s the one who hooked me up with Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me all those years ago. Not only did he have Cure albums aplenty in his music collection, his room was adorned with some really cool black-and-white posters featuring the wild-haired singer, Robert Smith. So in addition to the other stuff he provided me (Slayer, Beastie Boys, etc.), I asked him for a copy of the latest Cure album.

I remember putting it on the stereo when we got back to Waukon, and being a little bit confused. I had this preconceived notion that this band was basically some sort of keyboard-heavy new wave kind of thing. So when the opening track, “The Kiss,” with its blistering guitar work by Smith and Porl Thompson, came screaming out of my speakers, I had to wonder if Josh had recorded the right band. Of course, when Robert starting singing, I realized the band was right and my preconceived notions were wrong.

This is definitely an album where Porl Thompson, who departed the Cure in 1994 to play in the Page/Plant band that performed on MTV Unplugged and later tour in support of the reunited Led Zep greats, was allowed to showcase his skills. And after an album where Robert wrote everything (The Head on the Door), all five members of the band were asked for input. Robert stated that the tapes he got from the others ranged from your typical guitar and guide vocal stuff to drummer Boris Williams submitting a demo that Robert described as “vampire drumming.”

And even though the resulting 18 songs are over the map stylistically, the quality level never dips. After “The Kiss” and its guitar showmanship (and lyrics that conclude with “I wish you were dead”), we hear bits of strings (“Catch”), some Eastern accents amid what I would consider to be “vampire drumming” (“If Only Tonight We Could Sleep,” awesomely covered by Deftones, by the way), the brassy compliment song “Why Can’t I Be You?”, a song with so many simple layers that when assembled come across as a song that is one of the most beautiful songs the band has penned (“How Beautiful You Are”), a dark, somewhat hypnotic tale about being “a mile under the ground and thinking that it’s Christmas” and being “out in car and it’s full of stupid girls and I try to speak and I just can’t remember a word” (“The Snakepit”), and more blasts of brass (“Hey You!”, “Hot Hot Hot!!!”, “Icing Sugar”) and an electric, up-tempo blast (“Shiver and Shake”) and one of those songs that I guess I always presumed the Cure did (“The Perfect Girl,” with its toy piano accents and no shortage of “doo-doo-doo” lyrics).

The album also has one of the greatest songs ever recorded, the song that even non-Cure fans probably are familiar with: “Just Like Heaven.” The song structure is similar to the aforementioned “How Beautiful You Are” in that it’s not a complicated song by any stretch of the imagination, but each little element comes together to create an amazing whole. It’s a song I’ve heard so many times and not once have I been “sick of it.” And the lyrics aren’t sappy but they’re not overly abstract, either. It’s a wonderful love song about how special an embrace can be and how dancing can be like “spinning on that dizzy edge” and how being with that special someone is just like heaven. And the video, set atop an oceanside cliff, is pretty cool, too.

The album also has “Like Cockatoos,” a song that features some really cool percussive effects around a slinky bass line, cool keyboard work, and an amazing way of describing the ending of a relationship. The whole song has a novel’s worth of emotion in about 100 words. The lyrical work on this song (throughout the album, really) is nothing short of stunning. It’s a skill of Robert’s that made the Cure so incredible during the band’s peak.

One funny thing about this album, a story that seems like a nice way to close this entry: my dad was listening to this album with me when we were driving somewhere. The song “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” came on, and my dad remarks, “They ripped this off from the Eagles.”

Let’s get one thing straight: much like The Dude, I hate the fucking Eagles, so you can imagine how well that statement went over with me, especially teenage version of me. I’m sure I insulted him in some way, to which he said, “Listen to ‘Journey of the Sorcerer’ and then tell me I’m wrong.” He had One of These Nights on LP, so when we got home, I gave it a listen. To call them similar is a stretch; to say one ripped off the other is flat-out wrong.

But to my dad’s credit, he wasn’t completely off-base. In an interview, Robert talked about recording some of the stuff in Southern California, and as a result, he felt at times they sorta sounded like…you guessed it, THE EAGLES.

I guess I should give my dad props for recognizing it, even if he won’t acknowledge the Cure is 1,000,000 times better than the Eagles.

Todd’s #10: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours

(click play button below to sample this album)

FMacRumoursWhat do you get when you take a band with two broken long term relationships, throw in an affair with another band member, and mix with lots of drugs and alcohol? The 10th best album of all time of course.

Like everyone else their age in the ‘70s my parents had this Fleetwood Mac Rumours album. For a long time this was the soundtrack to our weekends. My parents would be doing one of their typical projects around the house and when I wasn’t busy getting in the way or snagging my Dad a fresh beer, I would listen to Rumours and stare at the album cover.

When I hear the song “Dreams”, I’m always reminded of those lazy weekends and the brief time when you are very young that your life revolves around your parents. You go about your business secure in the fact that they have everything under control and nothing bad is ever going to happen. Of course, as you grow older you lose that feeling and realize they were winging it just like everyone else.

Anyways, I must have looked at the album cover a million times. Specifically this picture.

rumors

Quite an odd collection of people there. Singer and lead guitar player Lindsey Buckingham had the biggest hair I’d ever seen. He doesn’t look too happy to be next to his ex-girlfriend Stevie Nicks in the middle there. The McVies are nowhere near each other and Christine won’t look in John’s direction, which sort of tells you everything about the status of their relationship at the time. And what to say about Mick Fleetwood standing behind Stevie? Apparently they were banging around that time so maybe the look on his face makes sense in that respect.

Rumours has to be the most emotionally charged album in history. I can’t imagine being in the studio for the recording of some of these songs. Especially the songs like “Go Your Own Way.” I imagine Lindsey came in and said “Hey everyone, I have this great song. Stevie, It’s about how you broke up with me and started banging Mick. No hard feelings though Mick. Here’s how it goes.”

Loving you
Isn’t the right thing to do
How can I
Ever change things that I feel?
If I could
Maybe I’d give you my world
How can I
When you won’t take it from me?

That’s maybe my favorite lyric in music history.

If I could
Maybe I’d give you my world
How can I
When you won’t take it from me?

It always gets me going. Just ask my wife. When that part of the song comes on I always go crazy. “You see! He’s trying to give her everything but that bitch won’t take it from him!” She just laughs but I think she gets my outrage. The dude put it all out there but Stevie still fucked the drummer instead. The guitar solo at the end of the song is awesome too. Side note there: When I was at music school, the faculty put on a concert and I ran sound. One of the songs they played was “Go Your Own Way.” When that guitar solo came up, I raised the levels on the lead guitar and started rocking out pretty hard. Afterwards, I noticed that most everyone around me was watching me instead of the guitarist. I guess they didn’t think it was as cool as I did.

Rumours has a ton of amazing guitar work though. Take “Never Going Back Again” for example. Sometimes it sounds like three guitars instead of one. Once and awhile I listen to it and think “Hey, that’s really awesome. I could probably play that“. Then I remember I can’t. I have this Fleetwood Mac guitar book and when I look at the tablature on the page my head spins. It’s like doing musical calculus. Guess I’ll just stick to the Ramones songs where I just bang out 4 chords as loud as I can.

maddenThe Lindsey and Stevie songs usually get most of the airplay from this record but I like them all, even the Christine McVie tunes. I went through a period in college when I would listen to Rumours every afternoon. Guys used to come in and out of my room and I would usually end up playing someone in Madden 96’. They would complain when the Christine songs would come on. I thought it was great. Just when Christine lulled my opponents to sleep with “Songbird” or “Oh, Daddy”, Mike Alstott would blast through their defensive line for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers touchdown. All kidding aside, I really do like the Christine songs a lot. Well, sometimes I skip the Clinton/Gore fightsong “Don’t Stop”, but who doesn’t?

I guess we should give thanks to Slick Willie. He’s the reason for the Fleetwood Mac reunion in the ’90s. I actually bought my wife the Fleetwood Mac reunion concert album The Dance on our first date. I knew that I was going to marry her for two reasons after that date.

  1. She said she loved Fleetwood Mac.
  2. We ended up at a record store on our first date.

Yep, I’m a simple man.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

#20-16

#15-11

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