Thursday, March 5, 2009

numbers 31-32

32. Neil Young, Rust Never Sleeps. Why haven't I blogged in over a week? Partly it's due to #32 here. Before I started this list, it was a given that Neil Young would be on it. In baseball they talk sometimes of a "5-tool player," meaning a player who's proficient at hitting, fielding, running, spitting and juicing. Neil Young is the rock 'n' roll equivalent. He can totally shred and wail on the guitar. He's one of the great songwriters. He has a distinctive, mellifluous voice. He's taken tons of drugs. He can even match just about anyone out there on the harmonica, except maybe for rock demigod John Popper. There's only one important rock 'n' roll skill that he lacks, and that's dancing. But, you know, I also have a hard time visualizing Neil Young hoofin' it with some backup dancers (CS&N, maybe?).

BUT ... has Neil Young ever put out an album that belonged higher than #32? I dunno. Part of me even wonders if I should've put King Crimson here (Red really does kick ass) and plopped Neil Young's butt in the 40's. But geez, look at what he's accomplished in his lifetime: a whole lot. All the albums, all the groups he's played with, pissing off Lynyrd Skynyrd (who, incidentally, will NOT make it into my Top 50), etc etc. Plus, he wrote perhaps the 2nd-greatest rock song of all time, "Rockin' in the Free World." (Yeah! Rock! Boo yaa!) So this is kind of like a career achievement award for Mr. Young. At one point I even thought about leaving him off the list, just because he has no one album that really, you know, distinctly stands out for me. But then I saw "Rachel Getting Married," and that one scene where the dude from TV on the Radio sang a Neil Young song to Rachel at the altar, and I just completely choked up.

So ... we'll go with Rust Never Sleeps. It's hard to exclude Harvest (how can one leave out an album with a song like "Heart of Gold?"); but all in all there's a few great songs on Harvest and some not-so-great stuff, and I'm all about consistency. I tried not to include any live albums on the list here, but I'll make an exception for Rust Never Sleeps.

31. The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks. This, also, is something of a career achievement award. However, I do love this album, especially the song "End of the Season." Lots of other good songs on here, too. Ray Davies was one of the cleverest lyricists in rock 'n' roll, but musically The Kinks also rocked the house too. Kind of fascinating, how they spanned the gamut from early British Invasion rock ("You Really Got Me"), to Ray Davies' wry observations on English life ("Victoria," pretty much any song on Village Green Preservation Society), to rock standards ("Lola," "Destroyer").

An interesting bit of trivia: did you know that I've seen both Neil Young and The Kinks in concert? Neil Young: Saratoga Performing Arts Center, solo show, sometime around 1992. The Kinks: Springfield MA during college, I think my freshman or maybe sophomore year. In the second row. Both great shows. I have to wonder if either of them would've made the list, if not for those shows! Damn ...

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