Since tonight my Facebook is full of people chestbeating about Charice in Glee, allow me to tell you I don't find her talented.
In fact I don't find Charice , Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson talented. I really don't care if you disagree with me. Save your speech about who featured her on their show. Oprah does not speak to me. Ellen does not speak to me. John Madden speaks to me. Women are a distinct minority in my CD collection but does not mean I do not appreciate the musical contributions of some from that gender.
I have always been a music junkie and should you ever meet one, ask them stories about how they discovered certain albums or artists that are off the beaten path. There is more to discovering music than "I heard it on the radio" Here are a few of mine.
I go by a very simple ground rule in my evaluation.
1. It has to be an album that I own. Therefore listened to from beginning to end several times.
This rule will explain why Janis Joplin, Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones and Aretha Franklin are not here. I do not own any of their albums so sorry if you do and disagree with my selection.
Tapestry by Carole King. Oddly enough there are some cover songs here , but sung by the original composer. A review I read a long time ago said this has a living room feel and I truly agree. There is just so much more soul in her versions of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, You Make Me Feel and You've Got A Friend. Was on the Billboard Chart for decades.
Sade- Promise. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this. I went through the longest hair cut of my life. The second longest I blogged about. Granted they were 23 years apart. A lot of people know the first album because it's the one with Smooth Operator on it. This album I find a lot better. Between the opening "apology" of Is It A Crime? to the soulful War of the Hearts to the majestic haunting Fear just excellent songs.
Anita Baker Rhythm of Love . I was initially tempted to put Giving You The Best That I Got here. It does not have a song as bad as Rhythm of Love but it does not have a song as good as Baby either. I normally hate remakes but Anita does such a good job with You Belong To Me and The Look of Love. She "only " wrote 40% of the songs on this album. Honorable mentions are: GYTBTIG, Rapture and Compositions.
Heart- The Long Road Home. Normally putting any compilation is cheating on any best album lists. Except the Wilson sisters and their band mates changed the style of some of their well known classics. All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You (live ballad) is so raw and powerful I would feel very uncomfortable listening to it with the opposite gender present. Honorable Mention Dreamboat Annie and Dog & Butterfly.
Tracy Chapman- I think she was a Harvard med student at the time of this record. Which gives her something in common with Michael Crichton. Minimal instruments, excellent song writing. Folk for the 80s.
Melissa Ethridge. For those of you who that do not listen to albums really have no idea what it's like to put this CD on and be "accused" by the opening track "Similar Features". With that menacing bass line and Melissa's " delicate growl" to her singing. Bring Me Some Water is an excellent representative single to an excellent album. For me the hit single on 95% of serious albums are usually the most accessible as well as the weakest song on the album.
Jann Arden. Living Under June. Best known for the song she did not write on here Insensitive. It's the catchiest song yes but by no means the best. Like most great albums by women, there is a range to her expression here: menacing, vulnerable, needy, rocking and appreciative. Unloved is a duet with Jackson Browne. If you are sick of all those guy girl duets like Reunited and Separate Lives try this one.
Amanda Marshall. Nice range in this album from pleasant songs to rockers to power ballads that scare you. The opening track Let It Rain is part rocker part power ballad. Great opening guitar riff. Birmingham is a nice pleasant song describing not so pleasant topics. Beautiful Goodbye is such an excellent haunting song. About as atmospheric and intense as they get. Beautiful Goodbye is like a brutal emotional cleansing. A very talented ex choir mate of mine performed an excellent version of this song. Just her and a piano. I hope Patricia Merlo is reading this. Honored to be at her wedding ten years ago.
Blondie Parallel Lines. Many of you may not know Blondie. Those of you that know Blondie may not know that was the band's name and not the nickname of Deborah Harry. Of all the albums here, this is the one I have known the longest. Bought the cassette in 1979, the CD in 1990. Blondie was part of the "New Wave" pioneers in the late 70s. I never listened to the first two albums but am familiar with the three later ones. All of them have great highlights. Parallel Lines is the most consistent. The band (all guys) sound great for my ears. The guitars growl more than one would expect in certain tracks. Clement Burke was the first drummer I ever noticed just by listening to the songs.
Keiko Matsui Whispers From The Mirror - never heard of her? Neither did I till about 4 years ago. She is Japanese, I don't even know where she lives or if she is a musical product of Japan or the US. All I care about is this is good. Great songs, great piano playing and no singing. If I heard this out of the blue I would suspect it was Dave Grusin. That's how good Keiko is.
Sinead O'Connor I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got.
Raw emotion might seem like a cliche statement but to me it describes this Sinead O Connor album. This was two years before her "Fight The Real Enemy" shocker. But I digress. Twenty years after I bought this I still feel uncomfortable at times with how the emotion gets through on some songs here. And I am not even a woman. I bet if I was in the right mood and I had this album cranked , I would think she was mad at me.
Shoot Out The Lights- This album is a collaborative effort between a husband and wife. At least they were married at the time. The intro to Shoot Out the Lights you have heard a dozen times in movies like ID 4 and TV Shows like the Sopranos pilot. Yes, Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed reminds me of Ode to Billy Joe.
Speaking of tension between couples while making an album, I will close off this list with an album by Christine, Stevie, Lindsay, John and Mick. Better known as Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. The fact that there are such good stories about this one album shows you how important an album was back then. Know of any good stories about recent albums? I thought so. No one making an album worth caring over now. To this day I still don't understand the phrase "players only love you when they're playing." Rumors sold a bazillion copies and for good reason. There is not one bad song on it. Christine and Stevie made other great songs but listen to the ones they have here.
Honorable mention: She Bop and I Get Weak.
Keiko Matsui Whisper From The Mirror